WADA eyes research on gene dopingDANIA BOGLE, Observer staff reporter bogled@jamaicaobserver.com Friday, January 16, 2009

THE World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is investing lots of money and resources into conducting research into how to detect gene doping as it continues its fight against cheating in sport.

WADA programmes development manager, Tom May, made the revelation at the panel discussion on Drug Free Sport during the Jamaica Anti-Doping Agency's two-day Symposium which wrapped up yesterday at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.

May spoke to advances in science which have already developed the ability to clone animals and possible future advances which might help dishonest athletes cheat.

Gene therapy already allows for the alteration of DNA to help the body fight certain diseases.

May explained that through gene doping an athlete could manipulate the body to grow bigger muscles or help them develop at a faster rate.

"We don't think it's quite in place but we don't think we can wait for it to occur," he said.

The WADA has already pumped close to US$8 million into the gene doping research.

Meanwhile, International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Medical and Doping Commission member, Dr Herb Elliott, also noted that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and IAAF were also collaborating on a number of projects on the subject, including one at the Royal Caroline Institute in Sweden.

He discouraged the use of doping in sport, saying, "Doping Kills", adding that the dangers or using anabolic steroids included developing liver, heart, and kidney disease as well as epilepsy.

"It's one way of killing yourself by degrees," Elliott said. He added that in men, impotence and low sperm count were among the dangers, and mentioned the case of a female Bulgarian athlete who became pregnant while doping. The child, he said, was now a virtual 'vegetable' needing to visit the hospital at least once per week.

"Young ladies, don't take any foolishness it you wish to become a mother someday," Elliott implored.

The JADCO Symposium was part funded by GraceKennedy and UNESCO and involved athletes and officials from all national sporting associations.