Genetic Limitations to Athletic Performance

Colin Moran, Guan Wang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


Elite performance is a complex phenotype. It requires athletes to train hard, train well and look after their bodies through appropriate rest and nutrition. However, it also has a well-established genetic component that is larger than most people would estimate. In this chapter we will explore whether genetic variation could limit an individual’s athletic ability. We will consider the determinants of performance; both nature and nurture. We will explore the extent of genetic variation and how it can impact on physiological traits; as well as the issue of responders versus non-responders. We will discuss in detail some of the best know common and rare genetic variants that influence performance as well as the issues around, and strategies being employed in, discovering more. Lastly we will consider the potential for gene doping and for athletes to try to modify their performance through altering their DNA. Much about the genetics of sporting performance remains unknown. Athletes should not feel limited by any genetic information they currently have. In fact they should want to know more.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook on Biochemistry of Exercise
EditorsPeter Tiidus, Rebecca MacPherson, Paul LeBlanc, Andrea Josse
ISBN (Print)9780367223830
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 27 Dec 2020

Publication series

NameRoutledge International Handbooks

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge/CRC Press in The Routledge Handbook on Biochemistry of Exercise on 27/12/2020, available online:


  • Genetics
  • Athletic performance
  • determinants
  • limitation


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