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Ethics of genetic testing and research in sport: a position statement from the Australian Institute of Sport
  1. Nicole Vlahovich1,2,
  2. Peter A Fricker3,
  3. Matthew A Brown4,
  4. David Hughes1
  1. 1Department of Sports Medicine, Australian Institute of Sport, Bruce, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
  2. 2CRN for Advancing Exercise and Sport Science, Bond University, University Drive, Robina, Queensland, Australia
  3. 3Research Institute for Sport and Exercise, University of Canberra, University Drive, Bruce, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
  4. 4Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Translational Research Institute, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr David Hughes, Department of Sports Medicine, Australian Institute of Sport, Bruce, ACT 2617, Australia;{at}


As Australia's peak high-performance sport agency, the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has developed this position statement to address the implications of recent advances in the field of genetics and the ramifications for the health and well-being of athletes. Genetic testing has proven of value in the practice of clinical medicine. There are, however, currently no scientific grounds for the use of genetic testing for athletic performance improvement, sport selection or talent identification. Athletes and coaches should be discouraged from using direct-to-consumer genetic testing because of its lack of validation and replicability and the lack of involvement of a medical practitioner in the process. The transfer of genetic material or genetic modification of cells for performance enhancement is gene doping and should not be used on athletes. There are, however, valid roles for genetic research and the AIS supports genetic research which aims to enhance understanding of athlete susceptibility to injury or illness. Genetic research is only to be conducted after careful consideration of a range of ethical concerns which include the provision of adequate informed consent. The AIS is committed to providing leadership in delivering an ethical framework that protects the well-being of athletes and the integrity of sport, in the rapidly changing world of genomic science.

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  • Twitter: @DrDavid_Hughes

  • Contributors NV was responsible for the planning, conduct and reporting of the information within the manuscript. PAF was involved in the planning and review of the manuscript. MAB was involved in the planning and review of the manuscript. DH was involved in the planning, conduct and reporting of the information within the manuscript. DH has the authority to endorse this position statement on behalf of the AIS Department of Sports Medicine.

  • Funding Funded by the Australian Government and the Collaborative Research Network for Advancing Exercise and Sports Science.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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