Chilling new world


Chilling new world(2001, Jan 26) International Herald Tribune, by C. Clarey

Clarey begins by asking 'How far away are engineered stars?', which would not seem to require an answer that discusses gene doping at all. Athletes have always been engineered and this is what makes them special. Clarey's articles on sport tend often to pose interesting and difficult questions and this is no exception. Yet, still more must be said about the alleged clarity of the moral issues.

While cheating might appear to be obviously wrong in sport, what counts as cheating is often not clear at all. As well, the seemingly obvious illegality of gene doping is contingent on it being banned (on its use being an example of cheating). Though, again, one can question what it is that is trying to be avoided by prohibiting gene doping. Presumably, it is not genetic difference that matters to us, since sports competitions have always been premised on the existence of genetic difference. Potentially, it is an unnatural difference that alarms us, though this requires us to explain what we mean by natural, which is no easy task. If it is an unfair advantage, then we might make gene doping legal and then everybody has access to it. So, far from being clear cut, there are many further questions that must be asked about ethics concerning performance enhancement in sport before we can conclude that gene doping is unethical.