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Selected Champions: Making Winners in the Age of Genetic Technology

Kapitel i bok
Författare Christian Munthe
Publicerad i Tamburrini, C M & Tännsjö, T (eds.), Values in Sport: Elitism, Nationalism, Gender Equality and the Scientific Manufacture of Winners
Sidor 217-231
ISBN 0-419-25360-2
Förlag E & FN SPON
Förlagsort London & New York
Publiceringsår 2000
Publicerad vid Filosofiska institutionen
Sidor 217-231
Språk en
Ämnesord ethics, elite sports, gene technology, genetic modification, gene doping, doping
Ämneskategorier Medicinsk genetik, Hälso- och sjukvårdsorganisation, hälsopolitik och hälsoekonomi, Idrottsvetenskap, Teknik och social förändring, Praktisk filosofi


One of the most lively current controversies within sports concerns those interventions with the human body (and mind) that are acceptable in a 'fair competition' and those that are not so acceptable. On the philosophical level, this issue actualises the more basic query regarding the underlying criteria for demarcation between acceptable and unacceptable interventions. Traditionally, the controversies in this field have regarded intake of achievement-enhancing substances (some, like water, are allowed; others, like steroids, are prohibited and yet others, like transfusion of one's own blood from a period of 'top shape', are controversial), but also peculiar forms of 'designed environment' in training (such as the 'low oxygen, low airpressure' house made so famous by the Norwegian cross-country skier Björn Dählie). In this paper I will take the discussion at least one step beyond these issues and consider the prospect of using various forms of gene technology in the making of winners in elite sports. The second section of the chapter describes various oportunities to use gene technology in sports. As will be evident, genetic interventions may proceed in very different ways, and it is not obvious that they can all be treated alike in the context of sports. In the third section, I discuss to what extent ideals and values within sports used to back up reasons for prohibiting doping may also be a basis for rejecting genetic interventions. My conclusion, summed up the last section, is that this may be plausible regarding some interventions, but not by a long way is it plausible regarding them all. In fact, genetic interventions in order to enhance athletic achievement in many ways seem to promote important values within sports! Moreover, even for those interventions which in theory may be classified as analogous to doping, in practice it will often be impossible to check whether or not an athlete has made use of them.

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