Genetic testing has been used for a number of purposes so far. But in an unprecedented use of the science, Uzbekistan will soon start using genetic testing for finding such future Olympians who are more likely to succeed than others.
The project will be overlooked by Academy of Sciences and National Olympic Committee and will kickstart by 2015 if all goes well for the country. It will be based at Uzbekistan’s Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry and will be called ‘sports selection at the molecular genetic level.’ Since the genetic tests will be performed at kids as young as 10, the project is sure to incur a plethora of ethics-related criticisms.
According to project leader Rustam Muhamedov, Uzbekistan’s scientists have been studying the genes of successful Uzbek athletes for many years now. He says that this data will be used to make the new project successful.
Despite Uzbekistan’s plans of finding the perfect Olympians and athletes using genetic testing, experts around the globe have expressed reservations over the possible success of the method. The physical prowess of an individual is informed by a huge number of genes and it is nearly impossible for scientists, at this stage, to explore all the genetic traits of a single individual and understand his genetic make-up perfectly.
This means that if genetic testing is used to find out the athletes of the future, scientists involved in such a project will be basing their decisions on one or two or a few genes. In the words of David Epstein, who has written and researched about the role of genes in sports, “So if you make a decision based on a small number of genes, which presumably is what is going to happen, you’re sort of trying to decide what a puzzle looks like when you’ve only got one of the pieces, or two of the pieces, and you don’t have the other hundred or thousand pieces.”
Source: The Atlantic
Courtesy: The Verge