Fears of Discrimination Over Sickle Cell Testing

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Normal red blood cell (background, colored red) and red blood cell affected by sickle-cell anaemia (foreground, colored yellow). (Flickr: wellcome images)

It is now mandatory that athletes wanting to particpate in NCAA Division I sports be tested for sickle cell anemia. The new rule has some people worried that it could lead to racial discrimination.

Put in affect in April, it's aimed to prevent the sudden death of young athletes such as 19-year-old Dale Lloyd II, who died suddenly in 2006 after a rigorous practice for Rice University's football team.

The Takeaway's sports contributor, Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, believes many of these young athletes feel invincible and as if nothing can hurt them: "their body is a tool," he says.

Troy Duster, professor of sociology at NYU, is also a former chair to the Human Genome Project's National Advisory Committee on Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications. Duster believes that because sickle cell anemia affects mostly African-Americans, these young black athletes could be scrutinized more closely than anyone else, because of these tests.


Ibrahim Abdul-Matin and Troy Duster

Produced by:

David J Fazekas

Comments [2]

Barry Needalman from Boston

Would anyone but an unrepentant hater believe that African-Americans are somehow diminished by an inherited, genetic disease? Are anti-semites citingTay-Sachs disease?

No child should die because of paranoia.

Sep. 23 2010 05:28 PM
Steven from New York

How much risk of players' death are we prepared to tolerate because a basically useful, if imperfect, test could be misused by racists?

Experts will disagree as to the level of risk. The test lets everyone knows who is at risk (at whatever level) and then the people concerned have the information they need to take informed action. If that action keeps players safer OR provides the basis for an informed waiver, everyone benefits.

What's the answer? Test to keep people safe, and put legal sanctions in place with real consequences for people who abuse the tests, testing requirements, etc.

Sep. 22 2010 08:00 AM

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