Monday, September 03, 2012

Gene doping: "The candle that burns twice as bright, lasts half as long..."

Reuters has a disturbing article on "gene doping" which is defined as modifying one's genes to produce or enhance a specific ability so as to boost athletic performance. Theoretically gene doping would be undetectable since the modified gene would be a permanent fixture of your very own DNA.

Two things seriously disturbed me in this article: the first was how very, very, wrong gene doping can go. (See the paragraphs on the EPO producing gene that created eventual sludge for blood and then no red blood cells at all), and finally this depressing "gem"...

From Reuters:

"... A frequently-cited survey in the world of sport gives a bleak picture. In it, Chicago-based Bob Goldman, a doctor and founder of the U.S. National Academy of Sports Medicine, asked elite athletes in the 1980s whether they would take an enhancement which guaranteed them gold medals but would also kill them within five years. More than half said yes.

"I was shocked to see that out of 198 world-class athletes, 52 percent would be willing to give up their life for five years of an undefeated run of wins," Goldman told Reuters during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

He repeated the survey every two years for the next decade and the results were always the same - around half of the athletes polled were ready to die for gold. "Some of the athletes are only 16-years-old," Goldman said. "To be willing to die at 21 is a serious psychological mindset." 

The quote in the blogpost title is borrowed from the Ridley Scott movie, Blade Runner, a movie all about gene doping before the concept of gene doping was ever thought possible.

No comments: