Genetic Limitations to Athletic Performance

Authored by: Colin N. Moran , Guan Wang

The Routledge Handbook on Biochemistry of Exercise

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367223830
eBook ISBN: 9781003123835
Adobe ISBN:


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Elite performance is a complex phenotype. It requires athletes to train hard, train well, and look after their bodies through appropriate rest and nutrition. However, it also has a well-established genetic component that is larger than most people would estimate. In this chapter we will explore whether genetic variation could limit an individual's athletic ability. We will consider the determinants of performance, both nature and nurture. We will explore the extent of genetic variation and how it can affect physiological traits, as well as the issue of responders versus non-responders. We will discuss in detail some of the best-known common and rare genetic variants that influence performance, as well as the issues around, and strategies being employed in, discovering more. Lastly, we will consider the potential for gene doping and for athletes to try to modify their performance through altering their DNA. Much about the genetics of sporting performance remains unknown. Athletes should not feel limited by any genetic information they currently have. In fact, they should want to know more.

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