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Pro Sports Asked to Ban Gene Doping

Posted Nov. 18, 2008 / Posted by: admin

CONTACT:
Nick Berning, 202-222-0748

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Friends of the Earth announced today that it has sent letters to major U.S. professional sports organizations asking them to prohibit gene doping.

"Altering one's genetic makeup to impact athletic performance is unacceptable," said Gillian Madill, genetic technologies campaigner at Friends of the Earth. "Gene doping is cheating, and it's dangerous. Professional sports organizations should ban it."

Friends of the Earth sent letters to the NCAA, NBA, WNBA, MLB, NFL, MLS, NHL, PGA, Arena Football League, Major League Lacrosse, and National Lacrosse League, calling on them to ban the practice.

Gene doping is a developing technology that poses the potential to alter athletes' genomes, enabling them to run faster or hit harder by injecting a virus containing modified genes into their bodies. This is the same method used in the medical practice of gene therapy, which has yet to prove successful. In fact, multiple deaths have been reported since the first gene therapy experiment in 1990, including last year's death of Jolee Mohr, a 36-year-old mother of two.

Scientists researching gene therapy have already been contacted by athletes looking for ways to gain an edge in competition. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited gene doping in 2003, which means that no Olympic athlete may use this dangerous technology to cheat in sport. But professional sports organizations do not yet prohibit gene doping, even though they have athletes competing in the Olympics.

"All athletes deserve to compete on an even playing field," Madill said. "Gene doping undermines that right."

The United States has already enacted a law prohibiting gene doping in amateur sports. The Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-469) permanently includes gene doping in the list of prohibited substances among any list adopted by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

"Friends of the Earth opposes all genetic modification of life, including human life," Madill said. "It is important to protect the gene pool, our most basic common natural good, from genetic pollution caused by genetic engineering. It is impossible for humans to comprehend the implications of manipulating the genetic makeup of nature."

 

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Friends of the Earth (foe.org) is the U.S. voice of the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 70 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has been at the forefront of high-profile efforts to create a more healthy, just world.

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