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No CRISPR for Sports

The World Anti-Doping Agency is adding gene-editing agents to its list of banned substances for use in sports, Engadget reports. It notes that the organization is trying to get ahead of a possible new doping approach, rather than playing catch up.

Beginning next year, WADA is to prohibit the use "gene-editing agents designed to alter genome sequences and/or the transcriptional or epigenetic regulation of gene expression," according to the organization. New Scientist notes that the agency already prohibits the use of genetically modified cells and gene therapy and that the additional language appears to be aimed particularly at CRISPR-based gene editing.

A WADA spokesperson tells New Scientist that individuals who undergo gene editing for medical reasons may be allowed to compete in sports, depending on whether that treatment returns them to what's considered normal or provides them with an edge. The agency did not respond to New Scientist's query about whether it would be able to actually catch individuals who cheat via gene editing. However, it notes that the biological passports the agency introduced a few years ago to track biomarkers of doping might be able to detect changes stemming from genetic alterations.