Sam Moxon, PhD, research fellow in the Division of Cell Matrix Biology & Regenerative Medicine at the University of Manchester, in a Mar. 23, 2021 article, "Gene Doping: The Next ‘Big Issue’ in World Athletics," available at, stated:

“Let’s talk about the most powerful tool in the potential cheater’s toolbox. CRISPR-Cas9 is one of the most flexible and inexpensive forms of gene editing that has opened the door to scientists, and even lay people, to the ability to manipulate gene sequences. It stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats and it gives researchers the ability to tweak the DNA sequences of genes and alter their functions.

The process involves generating a ‘new’ genetic sequence and attaching it to a protein called Cas9 which scans DNA strands within the individual’s cells until it locates the target sequence. Typically, the Cas9 protein will then cut the DNA at the target gene and introduce the new sequence (a sequence to repair a faulty gene for example)…

The frequently stated goal of CRISPR is to use the technology to snip genes to correct genetic disorders, treat diseases and improve crops, among its most cited uses…

Gene doping (boosting athletic performance using banned substances or methods) has been a constant issue in athletics and other sports for decades. After fits and starts over many decades, a relatively rigorous system of checks and balances is in place to detect when an athlete is taking performance enhancing drugs. There is an array of tests that can be run on blood and urine to ensure an athlete is performing ‘clean.’

But current tests are designed to detect foreign substances and chemicals in an athlete’s bloodstream or urine. DNA is far from a foreign substance and is harder to probe for evidence of tampering. For example, unlike classic doping drugs such as steroids, bioengineered substances are chemically identical to the body’s natural hormones, making detection difficult at best. Gene editing adds additional layers of concerns. Doping using something like CRISPR guarantees that tests will be unable to detect when an athlete has attempted to give themselves a genetic advantage.”

Mar. 23, 2021