January 16, 2017
Anti-Doping Movement In Sports

Spiegel has a piece Inside the Desperate Battle against Sports Doping. Lots of athletes get away with it. Pretty unfair for the ones who do not cheat.

I've made this argument many times: anti-doping efforts are a losing cause. Doping techniques will become harder to detect. They will also become more powerful.

But there is hope of a sort on the horizon: In 10 years time we have orders of magnitude more understanding of how genetic variants cause differences in human performance. This is inevitable due to the plunging costs of DNA sequencing. As a result it will become possible to measure a person's genetic potential to perform in various sports. Test the genetic potential. Then report for each athlete what their max unenhanced performanance is in running, sprinting, jumping, and other measures. If they exceed that max then, hey, they are cheating.

But measuring a person's potential max requires more than genetic testing for an important reason: developmental stochasticity. In other words, noise in the process of developing a human body causes flaws and excesses in how various parts of the body develop. So noise makes each person's effective performance max something more or less than the genetic max. But I expect other techniques will allow measurement of effective potential.

Of course, if we can measure various people's max potential then why have sports matches? Because a large fraction of the population (a fraction that does not include me btw) want to watch people compete at extreme levels of athletic performance. So I expect sports to continue. But the testing process of deciding who ought to try to make a go of rising to the top in sports will become a lot more efficient. People will be told at much younger ages that they do not have the right stuff.

What this might lead to: the rise of sports organizations where the competitors are ll people who will get enhancements to allow them to exceed their original genetic potential. I predict that watching super enhanced humans play sports will be seen as much more appealing to the audience once enhanced humans can far exceed natural wild type humans in all major sports.

Sports which allow human enhancement are inevitable. Once a substantial fraction of the population is the product of genetic editing they and their parents will demand sports that they can compete in. We all have some purely harmful mutations in our genes. People will seek to replace those genetic variants with much better variants. Plus, people will opt to give their kids genetic variants that make them faster sprinters or long distance runners or tennis players or better at other sports. Those kids will want to play in their own leagues. Some of us will live to see the day when the genetically enhanced compete with each other while the natural humans watch from the audience.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2017 January 16 02:57 PM 

JP Straley said at January 18, 2017 6:29 AM:

Genetic enhancement is the end of professional sports. Dedicated amateurs will be able to perform as well as anyone, so why pay to watch when you can see excellent local competition. Or if you prefer, play yourself on a very high level.

Might allow college teams to be composed of players actually representative of the student body!

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