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Gene doping is next frontier of performance enhancers in sports

The Kansas City Star—May 11, 2008

Scientists have seen the future of sport. It involves mice that can lift three times the average, humans who can run 90-minute marathons, and ligament tears that can be fixed by injection.

It is genetic engineering, therapy and doping, and it is the arrival of the bionic athlete. At the extreme, this is either the advancement or end of the human race. At the minimum, it is the unavoidable change to the way our sports -- baseball, football, the Olympics, you name it -- are played.

Scott Rodeo is an orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. His work centers on using gene therapy to treat the recovery of rotator cuff tears. His team has completed work on sheep, but if it goes where they hope, this is literally life-changing stuff for baseball pitchers everywhere.

"The healing between tendon and bone is a slow process," Rodeo says. "What we're doing, this could potentially hasten recovery time. You could certainly diminish the failure rates, which are distinct."

The future of gene engineering is the future of sports, and vice versa. As Rodeo says, "you're talking about the next frontier of doping."

This story originally appeared at the Kansas City Star.


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