Genetics and Athletics

We have been constantly told by the people who tell, that race doesn't exist, it has nothing to do with biology, it is a 'social construct' and all men (and women, of course) no matter where their origins, are the same.

Any deviation from this politically correct nostrum is deemed as 'racist' and not just incorrect but wicked.

So how is it that in both the woman's and men's 100m finals at this year's World Athletics Championships (top picture) most if not all the competitors were of black, sub Saharan African ancestry?

Why are there no athletes in there originating from, say, the Indian sub-continent, China or Europe, only from black Africa?

Could it be that these finalists are victims of 'institutional racism', many of them originally planning careers in science and engineering or having aspirations as academics, but thwarted by 'white privilege' and 'racism', turning to sport and athletics instead?

There is an alternative explanation - the un-PC one - that is, for some complicated set of reasons, evolution over many thousands of generations in sub-Saharan Africa has given these individuals physiological, musculoskeletal, psychological and hormonal differences which allow them superior athletic prowess.

Body shape, muscle strength, the relative lengths of legs, heels and toes, as well as a fine-tuned nervous system to pull the whole thing together, are just some of the biological attributes that make a world-class runner.

So race is more than just skin colour?

A good coverage of this topic can be found here:

This brings up another topic: 'Mo' Farrah as 'British'.

Not wishing to deny any of the kudos Sir Mo has rightfully gained as a great athlete, but how do the rigours of modern athletics and sports science - where a huge variety of cutting edge research is used to push the boundaries of achievement - stand when genes are involved yet seemingly ignored?

The presence of tiny traces of performance enhancing drugs which are considered to violate the spirit of sport are vigorously challenged, but why are the biological aspects of genetics not similarly taken into account?

Many Africans are now given the status of being British in a civic sense, but when it comes to national pride (as opposed to naked commercialism, evident also in other sports such as professional football) shouldn't the qualification of an athlete to compete for Great Britain be based upon their genetic ancestry as well as other factors, such as a clean record on sport enhancing drugs?


This article was first published at the Civil Liberty website.