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Saturday 27 April 2019

British Horseracing Authority Stamps on Gene Doping

Gene doping is the term used to cover the science behind manipulating genes to create a better performance. In horse racing, thoroughbred horses have been carefully bred for years, using natural selection of top mares and stallions. However, with the potential advances on gene doping the British Horseracing Authority is keen to stay ahead of the game as it has concerns that in the future it could become an issue as freetips.com explains. 

It was only a decade ago that the idea of changing genes via gene manipulation was first touted as a possibility. At the time it seemed so far away that very little attention was paid, a shrug and a nod but no one really seemed concerned. However, just ten years later it has gone from a theory that seemed unreachable to something very possible, and the BHA is keen to ensure that it stays one step ahead. At the moment they categorically state that there is no concern, and that they do not believe there is any gene doping within the sport how3ever, they have made a commitment of £1m to ensure that essential research can be carried out to allow them to stay one step ahead of any potential cheating using this form of gene manipulation. 

Speaking last week, David Sykes, who is the director of equine health and welfare at the British Horseracing Authority had this to say on the subject. “This is new technology that is unravelling all the time. None of us here think that there has probably been a previous incidence of it, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be looking forward into the next five or 10 years and at least being able to identify if it is going to occur. For example, you could send in the material which would alter the EPO [erythropoietin] receptor site, to allow an animal to produce increased levels of EPO naturally [and increase the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity]. That could be expanded to anything else. For example, you could target muscle mass and increasing it, or at some point talk about circulatory systems, increasing blood supply or even cardiac muscle size by genetically altering the DNA sequence.” 

The earmarked money is part of an international campaign to ensure that the sport stays free of anything like this happening and, his college Brant Dunshea who is the chief regulatory officer at the BHA also confirmed the standpoint of the organisation. “Late last year we were in discussion with our laboratories, who said that we need to be part of international collaboration on gene doping to ensure that we are not globally duplicating work. Across six or seven countries, we are all working together to do various pieces of the jigsaw puzzle on gene doping. There’s no specific evidence that we’re aware of in relation to there being genetic manipulation that’s happening, but we haven’t done the research yet to be able to develop the techniques to be able to monitor it, so that’s what this research is all about.”

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