European sport ministers discuss ethics, gene dopingPublished: Friday 19 December 2008 Ministers and other stakeholders acknowledge that there are corruption, match-fixing and illegal betting problems in sport and have asked the Council of Europe to tackle these and other emerging ethical challenges in sport, such as gene doping. Sport representatives gathered for a Council of Europe conference on 12 December, adopted a package of three resolutions, including measures to address sports ethics.

The ministers "acknowledge that there is a problem of corruption, match fixing and illegal betting in sport and invite sports organisations to investigate the situation and, where appropriate, identify the problems".

The Council of Europe is invited to draw up a draft recommendation which could form the basis of a new convention on these issues and help increase integrity controls.

In particular, the ministers ask the Council of Europe to address emerging challenges such as genetic engineering in sport.

Doping refers to the use of performance-enhancing drugs, which is forbidden by organisations that regulate sport competitions. It is widely seen as unethical by most international sports organisations as it damages health and undermines the equality of opportunity of athletes.

A major new ethical challenge in the fight against doping is the use of genetic engineering, declares the resolution.

Gene doping can enhance athletic performance without being detected in blood and urine tests. The issue is currently being addressed in bioethical debates about human enhancement. "One of our main priorities should be well prepared to react quickly to new ethical challenges,” agreed Birgitta Kervinen, president of the European Non-Governmental Sports Organisation (ENGSO).

The resolution on pan-European sport cooperation invites the Council of Europe to consider ways of increasing its cooperation with the European Union.

"I believe that it is the clear interest of EU members and non-members alike to avoid any developments which would introduce duplication and weaken pan-European arrangements for a better and healthier sport across the continent and beyond," said Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, deputy secretary-general of the Council of Europe.

The resolution on autonomy and sport reflects concerns that stakeholders have over the growing commercialisation of sport and the effects it has on the autonomy of sports movements.