An ethical critique of genetic enhancement in sport
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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Sport is a competition between athletes to compare and measure athletic performance. The victory in contests ought to be brought about by legitimate athletic performance only. Legitimate athletic performance must exclude performance factors which are largely outside of the athlete’s control. Athletes are not responsible for the advantages gained through genetic enhancement so they deserve no merit or reward for victories brought about by such enhancements. The use of genetic technology is unfair and should be recognised as a form of cheating. To prohibit the use of genetic technology is a legitimate restriction of personal autonomy. This is because the widespread use of genetic technology poses risks to the athletes and harms to sport itself. Moreover if genetic technology was considered acceptable, athletes would be coerced into using it for themselves (somatic genetic modification) and/or parents might pursue germ-line genetic modification for their offspring. The later is a significant and troubling infringement of children’s rights.
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