Gene Doping – The Future of Doping?

Teaching Unit – Gene Doping in Competitive Sports

by Swen Körner (Author) Stefanie Schardien (Author) Birte Steven-Vitense (Author) Steffen Albach (Author) Edgar Dorn (Author)
©2016 Others 151 Pages


Gene doping is regarded as the form of performance enhancement in elite sports with the greatest potential which also raises issues for all of society that transcend competitive sport. This book brings together detailed concepts for lessons dealing with the scientific, legal, ethical, and social aspects of gene doping. The lessons have been applied in class and extensively annotated for classroom use. Upper secondary level students may choose out of various options which will refine and expand their subject expertise as well as their methodology, decision-making and responsibility in accordance with their subject focus, interdisciplinary approach, and curricular objectives.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Preface
  • User Notes
  • Teacher materials: Volume 1
  • Chapter 1 Overview
  • Chapter 2 Topic relevance
  • Gene doping in competitive sport
  • Chapter 3 Background information for the teacher (Subject matter analysis)
  • 3.1 Gene doping definition
  • 3.2 Medicine
  • 3.3 Ethics
  • 3.4 Law
  • Chapter 4 Curricular tie-ins
  • Chapter 5 Options for using the teaching unit
  • 5.1 Modular options
  • 5.1.1 Focus: Scientific foundations of gene doping
  • 5.1.2 Focus: Legal foundations of gene doping
  • 5.1.3 Focus: Ethical aspects of gene doping
  • 5.2 Alternative option
  • 5.3 Classical option
  • 5.3.1 Teaching unit schematic overview
  • 5.3.2 Course planning
  • 5.3.3 Detailed guidelines for the individual phases
  • Phase 1: Introduce and raise awareness of the issue
  • Phase 2: Scientific part
  • Phase 3: (optional): In-depth scientific part
  • Phase 4: Scenario (news article) and preparing for the crisis talk
  • Phase 5: Crisis talk
  • Phase 6: Appraising the crisis talk
  • Phase 7: Conclusion
  • Chapter 6 Additional readings
  • Chapter 7 Annex
  • 7.1 Material for Phase 1
  • 7.2 Material for Phase 2
  • Scientific basis of gene doping
  • Evaluation rubric
  • 7.3 Material for Phase 3 (optional): In-depth scientific section
  • In-depth text 1: Indirect detection of gene doping
  • Evaluation rubric
  • Evaluation rubric
  • 7.4 Material for Phase 4
  • Lead-in to the crisis talk using the scenario (handout)
  • Evaluation rubric: Lawyer
  • Evaluation rubric: Spectator/Fan
  • Evaluation rubric: Athlete/Marco Epowitz
  • Evaluation rubric: coaches
  • Evaluation rubric: federation official
  • Chapter 8 Additional material slide presentation: legal basics of gene doping
  • Compact slide overview
  • Student materials: Volume 2
  • Chapter 1 Scientific basics of gene doping
  • MATERIAL 1: Basic text
  • MATERIAL 2: in-depth text 1
  • MATERIAL 3: In-depth text 2
  • Chapter 2 Crisis talk material
  • MATERIAL 4: News report for the crisis talk
  • Chapter 3 Infopack for the lawyer role
  • MATERIAL 5: Introduction to the lawyer’s role
  • MATERIAL 6: Gene doping and the law
  • MATERIAL 7: Legal dimensions of gene doping
  • Chapter 4 Infopack for the fan/spectator role
  • MATERIAL 8: Introduction to the fan role
  • MATERIAL 9: The F.A.Z. in conversation with Prof. K.-H. Bette
  • MATERIAL 10: The following are excerpts from talks with two well-known experts on the subject of “gene doping in sport”
  • MATERIAL 11: “Unrestricted doping is fairer”
  • Chapter 5 Infopack for the athlete role
  • MATERIAL 12: Introduction to the athlete role
  • MATERIAL 13: Athlete
  • MATERIAL 14: Discussion structuring help
  • Chapter 6 Infopack for the role of coach
  • MATERIAL 15: Introduction to the role of coach
  • MATERIAL 16: Excerpts from interviews with two well-known experts on “gene doping in sport”
  • MATERIAL 17: Andy Miah on ethical reflections on gene doping
  • MATERIAL 18: “Unrestricted doping is fairer”
  • MATERIAL 19: “Gold in the genes”
  • Chapter 7 Infopack for the role of federation official
  • MATERIAL 20: Introduction to the role of federation official
  • MATERIAL 21: The German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) and its self-image
  • MATERIAL 22: The state’s goals for competitive sports
  • MATERIAL 23: Excerpts from the DOSB “State Goals for Sport position paper”
  • MATERIAL 24: Information about athlete whereabouts and accessibility
  • MATERIAL 25: Op-ed on doping in the F.A.Z.
  • The competitive athlete made of glass
  • Chapter 8 Supplemental material
  • MATERIAL 26: Audience assignments
  • MATERIAL 27: Your bottom line
  • MATERIAL 28: Quiz
  • MATERIAL 29: Glossary
  • Table of figures

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Gene doping is a promise. For one thing, it cannot deliver on what it purports to do: according to the experts, experimenting with or using it on the athlete’s body to deliberately trigger and control moleculogenetic regulatory mechanisms is a bridge too far as things stand now. To date, there has not been a single documented instance of gene doping, and the development of relevant detection methods is still in its infancy. But we also need to draw a distinction between this not yet and a fundamental not. While the former is merely a problem of technological development, hence only a question of time, the fundamental not is about the moral-ethical reasons why we may not or should not do what is technically feasible. We have learned from the rapid progress in the field of biomedicine over the last seven decades that questions of social acceptance are decided in the light of historically co-evolving norms. How a fundamental not can turn into a fundamental shall can be seen on the example of how we progressed from rescinding prohibitions in the area of generative reproduction to legalizing induced abortions in 1976 to qualified approval of preimplantation genetic diagnosis in 2011. The power of embedded norms to stymie technological leaps, however, also can hardly be overestimated if for no other reason than modern societies are at pains to control side effects from their medico-scientific advances. Time and again, technologies from medicine, pharmacology, or the military spill over into other areas of society where they are put to completely new uses – we need only to recall Teflon pans and jet propulsion. Modern competitive sport and its susceptibility to doping technologies is no exception in this regard. Amphetamines can be used to straighten out ADHD children and keep soldiers alert, but they can just as well spur performance-inhibiting resources in the athlete body into action. Modern elite sport also finds use for anabolic steroids or erythropoietin (EPO) – both of them developed exclusively for medico-therapeutic purposes.

The other reason that gene doping is a chimera of sorts is because it has an aura of fascination about it even though it cannot live up to what it promises. Science and all the experts in the world can blame the fictionalizing of hard facts and marshal arguments for its present non-feasibility – modern elite sport, it seems, could not care less. It buys readily into the vision of a push button technology that seems set to unlock the ultimate secrets of human performance enhancement in the micro environment of the genes and to spin them into gold. A few years ago, when Repoxygen™ came along as a genetic engineering method for the intramuscular application of the EPO gene, a German former track and ← 9 | 10 → field coach lost no time signaling an interest in using it. The cloned athlete as the real utopia of tomorrow’s elite sport may be nothing more than fantasy run wild, but the mere fiction suffices for the world of competitive sport. In premature haste, in 2003 already the World Anti-Doping Agency moved to add gene doping to its prohibited list – without giving any specifics at first. The ingrained academic caution against indulging in speculation holds no water in sports. Ordering scientific knowledge is one thing; the logic of elite sports practice once again is something totally different.

Like the debate on doping, the gene doping debate is one of many voices. And like doping, gene doping – unquestionably charged by the magic word “gene” – is also something modern society is hooked on. Clearly, biochemists with an eye on gene doping are not going to stop analyzing bodily fluids and tinkering with new detection methods. Education and prevention, too, by no means are deterred from their well-intended work with high school athletes. Doping is also grist for the mills of those performing ethical, legal, and mass media functions: It can be reported on with gripping images and words, soberly adjudicated or discussed in terms of what it all means for sports. The fan base is not idle on the sidelines, either. It consumes sports but at the same time is appalled when it learns of doping in a sport. In doping, too, society reaps what it sows. Once started, society is forced to deal with the turmoil that it itself has conjured up.

It is these trends and problems that the present work ultimately addresses. You will find here specially adapted materials for examining the gene doping topic from scientific, ethical, and legal angles. Using it will foster a multiperspectival awareness of the problem that can serve as the basis for forming the requisite nuanced opinions.

Our special thanks to the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) for supporting this project.

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User Notes


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2016 (June)
Wissenschaft Gesellschaft Reflexionskompetenzen Sportpraxis
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2016. 151 pp., 9 graphs

Biographical notes

Swen Körner (Author) Stefanie Schardien (Author) Birte Steven-Vitense (Author) Steffen Albach (Author) Edgar Dorn (Author)

Swen Körner is professor at the German Sport University Cologne. His research focuses on physical education and social sciences in sports as well as systems theory. Stefanie Schardien works for the Evangelical Reformed Church of Bavaria. She researches theological bioethics, fundamental theological problems and ecumenical theology. Birte Steven-Vitense, Tobias Arenz, and Marcel Scharf are researchers at the German Sport University Cologne. Edgar Dorn is a researcher at Hildesheim University Foundation and Steffen Albach is a teacher of political education and economics.


Title: Gene Doping – The Future of Doping?
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154 pages