This month I speak at the spring meeting of BASEM. The title of the event is 'Novel Treatment Approaches in Sports Medicine' (26-27 April, The Belfry, Warwickshire) and I will discuss the related areas of bioethics, science communiation and media studies. Others on the programme include:

Dr Hakan Alfredson on Neovascularisation and its Management

Dr Jacque le Coz on Mesotherapy

Professor Strek on Cryo-Chamber treatment.

The brief for the event is 'to examine the evidence base underpinning some unusual and novel treatment approaches including mesotherapy, actovegan, traumeel, autologous blood injections, hyperbaric oxygen and the current status of stem cell research' The invitation to speak here arose out of a presentation I gave last year for UK Sport. It's great to have a presence on this programme, particularly as it seems to reflect the increasing interest in ethical debates within the biosciences.

Abstract of Presentation

Genetically Modified Athletes?: Bioethics, Science Communication and the Media By Dr Andy Miah, University of Paisley, UK

This paper examines dimensions of ethical debates surrounding novel treatment approaches to sports medicine. It argues that ethical problems must be situated in discussions surrounding science communication, which draw on a critical understanding of media structures. In this context, the paper argues for a ‘public engagement with ethics’ (Miah, 2005a) where this requires consideration of the theoretical and pedagogical foundations of the biosciences and biomedicine.

To explore this thesis, the novel treatment of gene transfer is considered in some depth. The application of gene transfer to elite sports performance has a particularly rich recent history for this purpose. The subject of ‘gene doping’ has generated considerable amounts of debate within ethical, policy and science spheres (Miah, 2004). Moreover, the subject area exists within a recurrent media structure – the prospect of the ‘genetically modified athlete’. To this extent, it is comparable to other major topics in the biomedical sciences, such as human cloning, which similarly has generated recurrent news stories and which also lacks an established evidence base. Questions concerning the ethical issues surrounding novel treatments are of particular relevance given the recent launch of a governmental inquiry into ‘Human Enhancement Technologies in Sport’ (March, 2006). Of particular significance is understanding whether novel treatments can be easily categorised as therapeutic within policy and, if not, what implications this has for their use within elite sport. The paper concludes with some suggestions for informing this inquiring, based on a critique of anti-doping policy (Miah, 2005b).


Miah, A. (2004). Genetically Modified Athletes: Biomedical Ethics, Gene Doping and Sport. London and New York, Routledge. Miah, A. (2005a). "Genetics, cyberspace and bioethics: why not a public engagement with ethics?" Public Understanding of Science 14(4): 409-421.

Miah, A. (2005b). "From anti-doping to a 'performance policy': sport technology, being human, and doing ethics." European Journal of Sport Science 5(1): 51-57.

Science and Technology Select Committee (2006, March 1). New Inquiry: Human Enhancement Technologies in Sport. Select Committee for Science and Technology, British Government.