Gene therapy research has reached a critical phase. Already practised on humans as part of strictly controlled experiments, gene therapy promises to become a widely available form of treatment for injury and disease. However, advances in the science of gene therapy have a darker side: gene doping--the unscrupulous use of genetic modification to enhance athletic ability by athletes, sportspeople and coaches.
"We have seen an interest among individuals who contact gene researchers for the purpose of doping in sport," said Karolinska Institutet's Professor Arne Ljungqvist, Sweden's most well-known anti-doping expert and chairman of WADA's (World Anti-Doping Agency) Health, Medical and Research Committee. "This is a disturbing trend because not only is gene doping in sport wrong, it can also be extremely dangerous."
The current status of research in the field of gene-doping detection will be presented at an international symposium to be held at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden on 45 December 2005. Two press conferences will be held in connection with the symposium (see below), which will be attended by the world's leading gene researchers and some of the sporting world's most prominent personalities.
"Gene doping represents a serious threat to the integrity of sport and the health of athletes," said WADA chairman Richard W. Pound. "As the international organisation responsible for promoting, coordinating and monitoring the global fight against doping in sport in all its forms, WADA is devoting significant resources and attention to ways that will enable us to detect gene doping so that we can catch the cheaters, level the playing field and ensure the safety of athletes. The 2nd WADA Symposium on Gene Doping promises to help advance these efforts."