Reading - Part II.
Read the text below and answer the following questions in English. Apart from technical terms, you should use YOUR OWN WORDS and only include information from the text.
Genetics and Drugs
Genetically engineered sportsmen and women will be bigger, stronger and quicker than ever before thanks to the misuse of remarkable advances in genetic medicine. And it will be virtually impossible to catch the cheats.
Forget steroids and everything else unscrupulous sportspeople take. By 2010, sport will be dominated by ultra-fast, super-strong, muscle-bound Frankenstein athletes whose record-breaking results owe as much to genetic medicine as to the gymnasium.
It may sound far fetched, but the era of gene-doping - creating super-athletes by manipulating breakthroughs in medical science - is fast approaching. In 10 years time the current game of cat-and-mouse between drug-taking athletes and sports drug testers will be irrelevant. Gene cheats will have replaced dope cheats and, worst of all, the authorities will be powerless to stop this perversion of mother nature's will.
One of the men who knows most about the potential misuse of medical breakthroughs is Professor Geoffrey Goldspink, who leads a team of 15 scientists and surgeons at Royal Free Medical School in London. They are investigating how gene therapy and tissue engineering can help, for example, people who have either seen their muscles wither because of old age or confinement after an accident or who suffer from some sort of deformity. They hope to develop ways to rebuild muscle using artificial genes produced by manipulating DNA.
The only tests they have done so far have been on mice, but the results have been startling. One injection produced 20% extra muscle within two weeks. If it gives mice bigger legs, it may do the same for people. Goldspink believes the effect on humans may be less dramatic, possibly only 10% growth inside a month. 'But as only a 5% improvement in performance can turn a mediocre club athlete into an elite national athlete and potential gold medal winner, the temptation for athletes to abuse these breakthroughs is obvious', says Goldspink.
Sportspeople who need good stamina, such as cyclists and distance runners, will be watching closely for news of developments in EPO gene therapy. EPO, one of the most widely-abused drugs in sport, is the banned substance which boosts endurance by raising the red blood cell count to abnormal levels. Scientists are currently devising ways to introduce an EPO gene into the body to help counteract anaemia. If it works for anaemia sufferers many sportspeople are sure to risk exploiting the same therapy, despite the known risks of strokes, heart attacks and paralysis.
Dick Pound, vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, is aghast at the possibilities opened up by gene-doping. 'Are we going to create a generation of monsters, of made-to-order humans, a race of specialised people who only do sport? Are we going to breed bigger and meatier people, such as 380lb [27-stone] linemen to play American football, in the same way that we already breed cattle?' says Pound. 'The scientists, legislators and medical ethics people have to say, hey, wait a minute, and stop this happening.'
With gene-doping commonplace in professional sport by 2010, there will be little the governing bodies can do about it. Muscles and red blood cells occur naturally anyway, so there will be no way of telling whether a gold medallist's astonishing performance owed more to natural ability or a syringe full of synthetic gene. Gene-doping may give us the sub-two hour marathon, the nine-second 100m and the three-minute mile. But who will believe it? Who will applaud? Is gene-doping in sport immoral? Certainly. Against what nature intended? Yes again. Illegal? No; there are no laws to deter or punish such experimentation.
- What will make sportspeople bigger and quicker in the future?
- What does gene-doping mean?
- What is Geoffrey Goldspink investigating?
- What effect did the therapy have on mice?
- What kind of temptation would the results mean to athletes?
- How does EPO work?
- Are there any useful ways EPO could be used?
- What will sportspeople's reaction will probably be to the introduction of an EPO gene into the body against anaemia?
- How does Dick Pound feel about gene-doping?
- Why will it be very hard to catch athletes who use gene-doping?