Beijing Olympics warned of 'gene doping' threatA new generation of 'genetically modified' athletes could mar the Beijing Olympics as sportsmen and women go to new lengths to realise their goals.
By Telegraph staff Last Updated: 2:36PM BST 05 Aug 2008
￼ Keeping clean: A doping control area at the National Aquatics Centre prior to the Beijing Olympics Photo: Reuters Leading British scientist Dr Andy Miah, who is currently in Beijing conducting research during the Games, claims that "gene doping" will become the latest headache for the sport.
Athletes will be able to improve their performance by inserting or inhaling foreign DNA. The process sees genes either injected into muscle of bone cells and their proteins fed into the tissue or red blood cells.
"In 2004, people were starting to talk about its use at the Athens Olympics," Dr Miah says in the Evening Standard. "This year the case is even stronger that this will be the first genetically-modified Games. Many scientists will say it's still not possible, but I'm not taking this for granted.
"We need to assume that it's happening. It's already feasible."
While the threat at this year's Games is thought to be minimal, Dr Miah fears London 2012 could feel the full force of the latest and most damaging threat to the sport.
He said: "London 2012 should be watching Beijing very carefully to see what's possible. There has never been a 'clean' Olympics.
"The main problem for sports is that there are so many technologies that are under the radar of antidoping that its policies do little more than to point us to successes of antidoping testing."
The 'genetically modified' process was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency list of banned substances in 2003, but today's claims are sure to put WADA on full alert.
A representative of WADA, Frederic Donze, said: "We have been preparing for gene doping since 2002.
"We have to believe that athletes will try anything to get an edge and this might occur at the Olympics and we work on that basis."