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Genetic Testing & College Athletes Essay

860 words - 4 pages

Genetic Testing and College Athletes

On April 13, 2010, the NCAA made tests for Sickle Cell Trait (SCT) mandatory, effective in August 2010. SCT is a condition where the blood cells are elongated and potentially block blood flow and resist bonding to oxygen. The trait is generally benign but becomes active under extreme physical stress. For athletes, when performing strenuous activities, the trait is sometimes triggered and can potentially cause death. The statute states “student-athletes must be tested for sickle cell trait, show proof of a prior test or sign a waiver releasing an institution from liability if they decline to be tested.”(Brutlag, 2010) SCT genetic testing and NCAA ...view middle of the document...

The current policy would potentially subject students with SCT to discrimination. Unlike in the workplace, where there are GINA laws in place to prevent employers from discriminating based on genetic tests, there are no such statutes in place in the NCAA (Human Genome Project, 2008). When disclosing to coaches, they may not want to recruit players with SCT, because they may be afraid to train the players as tough because of the risk of SCT complications. The discrimination is unwarranted because with simple water breaks the harmful condition is eliminated. Along with appropriately managed testing the NCAA should be concerned with regulating the practices and water breaks at those practices. Safer practices would reduce the risks to student athletes and more than likely improve performance. A better system for handling of athletes with SCT would require adequate education for the student athlete, the coaches and the training staff when a SCT test comes back positive. This would allow for everyone involved to understand the condition, its potential danger, and the steps required to mitigate its risks. An appropriate education program is the best way to attempt to use the SCT test to protect student athletes from both the dangers of SCT, and discrimination and backlash for having SCT.
SCT tests are the first mandated genetic test for student-athletes, and should not become a gateway to excessive genetic testing. SCT test is a unique example of a test that has a low cost, very specific test result, and that result identifies a condition that is deadly but completely preventable. Contrary to some critics, SCT has become the first...

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