06 Jun 2001
IOC News Press Release

Lausanne, 6 June 2001 - The Gene Therapy Working Group, convened by the Medical Commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), released its conclusions after a day of productive discussions on the theme “Gene therapy and its future impact on sport”.

The working group, chaired by Prince Alexandre de Merode, Chairman of the IOC Medical Commission, brought together a panel of international experts on genetics composed of Prof. Stylianos Antonarakis, Director of the Medical Genetics Division of the University of Geneva Medical School and the Geneva Hospitals; Prof. Theodore Friedmann, Director of the Program for Human Gene Therapy, University of California San Diego (UCSD) Gene Therapy Center; Prof. Inder Verma, Past President of the American Gene Therapy Society; Dr Douglas Jolly, CEO BioMedica Inc., Prof. Olivier Danos, Vice-President of the European Society for Gene Therapy; and Prof. Arthur Caplan, Director of the Center for Bioethics and Trustee Professor of Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania. The meeting was also attended by Dr Patrick Schamasch, Director of the IOC Medical Commission, and coordinated by Edward Baetge from Modex Therapeutics, Switzerland.

The aim of the meeting was to define gene therapy and assess its potential impact on sport from an ethical and scientific point of view. The conclusions are as follows:

Gene therapy is the transfer of genetic material to human somatic cells for the treatment or prevention of disease or disorders.

Gene therapy holds great promise for all people including athletes competing in Olympic sports.

We endorse the development and application of gene therapy for the prevention and treatment of human disease.

However, we are aware that there is the potential for abuse of gene therapy medicines and we shall begin to establish procedures and state-of-the-art testing methods for identifying athletes who might misuse such technology.

This will require investment in modern detection methods including antigen detection, gene chip and proteomic analysis which are now becoming available.

We are confident that we shall be able to adequately monitor abuses and establish the procedures for doing so using ethically acceptable methods.

We call upon other sports, medical and scientific organisations to endorse our position.

For further information on the subject, please contact Dr Schamasch on (41.21) 621 6111.

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