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Direct-to-consumer genetic testing for predicting sports performance and talent identification: Consensus statement

Webborn, N and Williams, Alun G. and McNamee, M and Bouchard, C and Pitsiladis, Y and Ahmetov, I and Ashley, E and Byrne, N and Camporesi, S and Collins, M and Dijkstra, P and Eynon, N and Fuku, N and Garton, FC and Hoppe, N and Holm, S and Kaye, J and Klissouras, V and Lucia, A and Maase, K and Moran, C and North, KN and Pigozzi, F and Wang, G (2015) Direct-to-consumer genetic testing for predicting sports performance and talent identification: Consensus statement. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 49. ISSN 0306-3674

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Abstract

The general consensus among sport and exercise genetics researchers is that genetic tests have no role to play in talent identification or the individualised prescription of training to maximise performance. Despite the lack of evidence, recent years have witnessed the rise of an emerging market of direct-to-consumer marketing (DTC) tests that claim to be able to identify children's athletic talents. Targeted consumers include mainly coaches and parents. There is concern among the scientific community that the current level of knowledge is being misrepresented for commercial purposes. There remains a lack of universally accepted guidelines and legislation for DTC testing in relation to all forms of genetic testing and not just for talent identification. There is concern over the lack of clarity of information over which specific genes or variants are being tested and the almost universal lack of appropriate genetic counselling for the interpretation of the genetic data to consumers. Furthermore independent studies have identified issues relating to quality control by DTC laboratories with different results being reported from samples from the same individual. Consequently, in the current state of knowledge, no child or young athlete should be exposed to DTC genetic testing to define or alter training or for talent identification aimed at selecting gifted children or adolescents. Large scale collaborative projects, may help to develop a stronger scientific foundation on these issues in the future.

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