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Sports: Drugs

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN HL11599, tabled on 17 December 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the UK Anti-Doping Agency's capability to test for (1) gene editing, and (2) synthetic messenger RNA, to meet the ban on the non-therapeutic use of genes, genetic elements and cells as set out in the World Anti-Doping Agency Code, that have the capacity to enhance athletic performance; and whether they are collecting and storing samples for such testing in the future.

Answered on

7 January 2021

It is the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) role to approve new testing processes. WADA has not yet developed a test for gene editing due to the complexities in identifying gene doping. To mitigate the threat of gene doping, WADA has a Gene and Cell Doping Expert Group which provides direction to its Health, Medical and Research Committee. The Committee develops strategies to prevent and detect non-therapeutic manipulation of gene/protein in sport.

WADA has approved tests for RNA, but these are only being used in experimental environments for research, and not yet by anti-doping organisations (including UK Anti-Doping).

UK Anti-Doping split the samples they collect from each athlete into “A” samples which are analysed, and “B” samples which are stored securely for potential future tests. Samples can be stored for up to 10 years.