The Michael Phelps Controversy

The Michael Phelps Controversy

PostBy: Richard S. On: Thu Jun 11, 2009 11:28 am

Nope not the one about the bong. I was watching TV yesterday and they had a show on about the "World's Strongest Toddler". I didn't watch the whole show but he has some kind genetic predisposition or lack of something that has made him very strong. You should have seen the muscles on this kid, no steroids or weight lifting or anything of that nature. All natural. He didn't look much more that your average kid until they showed him doing a pull up. The muscles were popping out his back with definition, he had a washboard stomach and bulging biceps.

Getting back to Michael Phelps also mentioned in the show he too has some kind genetic predisposition that gives him an edge. Apparently not widely known outside of the sports world or at least its the first I heard about it. ... 09,00.html

Hardworking muscles release lactic acid, which causes soreness. But Phelps' body can flush out lactic acid in minutes vs. the hour or two it takes the bodies of most athletes.

So this brings up some interesting questions. Is it fair for someone like that to compete in Sports? I think the answer is absolutely yes the bigger issue in the future is going to arise where you'll have regular athletes abusing this information and science will be able to produce stronger and faster athletes not through the typical steroids but through manipulation of natural means or even DNA.

For example the 3 year old toddler was being examined by doctors in the hopes that information could help in a cure for muscular dystrophy. On the flip side of the coin suppose they cure MD but some kid comes out of it much stronger than he normally would, Does that disqualify him from Athletics?

Just some food for thought but I can see this being quite controversial in the future.
Richard S.
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Re: The Michael Phelps Controversy

PostBy: CapeCoaler On: Thu Jun 11, 2009 11:32 am

If it happens by random chance then no reason to bar them...
If it happens by some form of 'engineering' then there needs to be 'classes'...
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Re: The Michael Phelps Controversy

PostBy: mikeandgerry On: Thu Jun 11, 2009 11:55 am

As I have argued before regarding stem cell ethics, the re-engineering of the human body is the controversial issue. The happenstance of certain unusual human traits is irrelevant to ethics and perhaps essential to evolution. However, ethical issues arise when we meddle with Nature before we know the possible ramifications of our actions. We should have a plan in place for those contingencies.

The pursuit of engineered bodies for the sake of vanity is certainly a vacant end.
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Re: The Michael Phelps Controversy

PostBy: pvolcko On: Thu Jun 11, 2009 12:26 pm

Whoa, hold on there. Not so fast.

Why do you take the position that Phelps should be allowed to compete alongside non-genetically advantaged people?

Gender is a genetically determined trait. We have separate competitions for males and females due to the advantages the male has.
Various disabilities are genetically determined. We have separate divisions of competition for them too.
While growing up through childhood through young adult life there strata of competition that atheletes advance through as they mature and age, the rate and level of abilities one has at a given age strongly influenced by genetic factors.

There are cases where people in a lower tier level of competition are allowed to compete at a higher level due to their relatively unique abilities, but they always ascend. It is considered cheating, or at the very least very bad form, to compete at a level below ones ability.

So perhaps Phelps is the case that finally pushes us as a society to create the "Extra-Special Olympics" where people with genetic mutations that give inordinate advantage in a sport can compete against each other.


Okay, maybe not yet or because of Phelps's particular brand of extra-ordinary ability, but at some point -- especially with the advent of pre-natal genetic testing and profiling technologies, selective embryo implantation techniques, and God knows what genetic therapies might come down the pike -- this seems likely to become a serious enough issue to do something about it along these lines. Keep in mind the only option is likely to be to read the genetic profile and put an athelete in the appropriate division. It will be essentially impossible to distinguish between natural genetic oddities and engineered or selected genetic oddities. And the circumstances of one's conception are likely to be a very highly guarded secret generally and information easily removed from the record either by bribery or government level corruption.

Re: The Michael Phelps Controversy

PostBy: beemerboy On: Thu Jun 11, 2009 3:29 pm

A 7'2"basketball player whose parents are tall, a football player that is built like a cinder block like his father. Should these athletes not be allowed to compete because of their unique stature?

Just as Phelps has the musculature supplied by genetics and natural selection, so does your average basketball player and football player. Genetics aren't the only factor of success it's also the drive and training. If a person doesn't want to do something, all the genetics in the world won't make him a winner.
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Re: The Michael Phelps Controversy

PostBy: Richard S. On: Fri Sep 11, 2009 12:17 am

Here's interesting twist along the same story line, what do you do with a person like this: ... teristics/

Gender tests conducted on 18-year-old track sensation Caster Semenya have determined that the South African woman has both male and female sexual characteristics, Australia's Daily Telegraph is reporting.

Semenya blew away the competition at last month’s IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Berlin. But the runner's stunning times, coupled with her muscular build and deep voice, led many to question whether she was, in fact, a woman.

In other words she/he is hermaphodite.

beemerboy wrote:Just as Phelps has the musculature supplied by genetics and natural selection, so does your average basketball player and football player.

Understood and I don't really have issue with Phelps, he's lucky man but the issue arises about actually trying to manipulate such characteristics and it's at the point now where it's reality. I guess this also has a lot more to do with than just sports and is a much larger issue outside the sports world. We could build super men and women but should we be going down that path?
Richard S.
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