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Genetic Search for Future Champs

Beginning in 2015, Uzbekistan says it will incorporate genetic testing into its search for Olympic athletes, the Atlantic reports.

Rustam Muhamedov from Uzbekistan's Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry's genetics laboratory notes that he and his colleagues have been studying the genes of Uzbek athletes and are working on developing a set of 50 genes to determine what sport a child is best suited for.

"Developed countries throughout the world like the United States, China, and European countries are researching the human genome and have discovered genes that define a propensity for specific sports," Muhamedov tells the Atlantic. "We want to use these methods in order to help select our future champions."

The Atlantic notes that while the International Olympic Committee and international sports organizations do not ban genetic testing, the World Anti-Doping Agency discourages it.

In addition, David Epstein, the author of the book The Sports Gene, says that officials and trainers would likely better identify potential world-class athletes by using a stopwatch and timing how fast people are.

"[I]t doesn't make much sense to do it at the genetic level at this point," Epstein tells the Atlantic. "What they are trying to do is learn about someone's physiology. If you want to learn about someone's physiology, you should test their physiology instead of the genes."