Article Text

Direct-to-consumer genetic testing for predicting sports performance and talent identification: Consensus statement
  1. Nick Webborn1,
  2. Alun Williams2,
  3. Mike McNamee3,
  4. Claude Bouchard4,
  5. Yannis Pitsiladis5,
  6. Ildus Ahmetov6,
  7. Euan Ashley7,
  8. Nuala Byrne8,
  9. Silvia Camporesi9,
  10. Malcolm Collins10,
  11. Paul Dijkstra11,
  12. Nir Eynon12,
  13. Noriyuki Fuku13,
  14. Fleur C Garton14,
  15. Nils Hoppe15,
  16. Søren Holm16,
  17. Jane Kaye17,
  18. Vassilis Klissouras18,
  19. Alejandro Lucia19,
  20. Kamiel Maase20,
  21. Colin Moran21,
  22. Kathryn N North14,
  23. Fabio Pigozzi22,
  24. Guan Wang5
  1. 1Centre for Sport and Exercise Science and Medicine (SESAME), University of Brighton, Eastbourne, UK
  2. 2MMU Sports Genomics Laboratory, Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Manchester Metropolitan University, Crewe, UK
  3. 3College of Engineering, Swansea University, Swansea, UK
  4. 4Human Genomics Laboratory, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, USA
  5. 5FIMS Reference Collaborating Centre of Sports Medicine for Anti-Doping Research, University of Brighton, Eastbourne, UK
  6. 6Volga Region State Academy of Physical Culture, Sport and Tourism, Kazan, Russia
  7. 7Clinical Genomics Service, Center for Inherited Cardiovascular Disease, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, USA
  8. 8Faculty of Health Sciences & Medicine, Bond Institute of Health and Sport, Gold Coast, Australia
  9. 9Department of Social Science, Health & Medicine, King's College London, London, UK
  10. 10Department of Human Biology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  11. 11Aspetar—Qatar Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
  12. 12Institute of Sport, Exercise, and Active Living (ISEAL), Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia
  13. 13Graduate School of Health and Sports Science, Juntendo University, Tokyo, Japan
  14. 14Department of Paediatrics, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, University of Melbourne, Royal Children's Hospital, Victoria, Australia
  15. 15Coram Chambers, London, UK
  16. 16School of Law, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  17. 17Nuffield Department of Population Health, Centre for Health, Law and Emerging Technologies, University of Oxford, Headington, UK
  18. 18Emeritus of Ergophysiology, University of Athens, Athens, Greece
  19. 19Universidad Europea and Research Institute i+12, Madrid, Spain
  20. 20Elite Sport Unit, Netherlands Olympic Committee * Netherlands Sports Confederation (NOC*NSF), Utrecht, The Netherlands
  21. 21Physiological Epigenetics Research Group, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK
  22. 22International Federation of Sports Medicine, University of Rome, Rome, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alun Williams, MMU Sports Genomics Laboratory, Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Manchester Metropolitan University, Crewe Green Road, Crewe, CW1 5DU, UK A.G.Williams{at}


The general consensus among sport and exercise genetics researchers is that genetic tests have no role to play in talent identification or the individualised prescription of training to maximise performance. Despite the lack of evidence, recent years have witnessed the rise of an emerging market of direct-to-consumer marketing (DTC) tests that claim to be able to identify children's athletic talents. Targeted consumers include mainly coaches and parents. There is concern among the scientific community that the current level of knowledge is being misrepresented for commercial purposes. There remains a lack of universally accepted guidelines and legislation for DTC testing in relation to all forms of genetic testing and not just for talent identification. There is concern over the lack of clarity of information over which specific genes or variants are being tested and the almost universal lack of appropriate genetic counselling for the interpretation of the genetic data to consumers. Furthermore independent studies have identified issues relating to quality control by DTC laboratories with different results being reported from samples from the same individual. Consequently, in the current state of knowledge, no child or young athlete should be exposed to DTC genetic testing to define or alter training or for talent identification aimed at selecting gifted children or adolescents. Large scale collaborative projects, may help to develop a stronger scientific foundation on these issues in the future.

  • Consensus statement

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Supplementary materials

  • Supplementary Data

    This web only file has been produced by the BMJ Publishing Group from an electronic file supplied by the author(s) and has not been edited for content.

  • Press release

    This web only file has been produced by the BMJ Publishing Group from an electronic file supplied by the author(s) and has not been edited for content.

Linked Articles