Gene fears by doping body

THE World Anti-Doping Agency has called for increased awareness of the dangers of gene doping.

Defined by WADA as "the non-therapeutic use of cells, genes, genetic elements, or of the modulation of gene expression, having the capacity to improve athletic performance", it is thought to be the next big performance-enhancing threat in world sport.

After a symposium on the subject in St Petersburg, WADA vice president Professor Arne Ljungqvist said the organisation had an important role to play in informing athletes of the problems it could cause.

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He said: "Most experts do not think that gene transfer is being misused by athletes yet, but we know that there is a growing level of interest in the sports world in the potential for gene doping, and that scientists working on potential genetic cures for muscle diseases or blood disorders are being approached by sports figures to inquire about the use of genes to enhance performance in sport.

"We need to make sure that athletes know the dangers associated with these technologies, and, for those who may choose to ignore them and cheat, that they will be caught."

WADA director general David Howman added: "Issues associated with gene transfer are multiple and complex."