Two Premier League teams commission genetic profiles of their players

Move is bid to identify strengths and weaknesses

Two Barclays Premier League clubs have commissioned genetic profiles of their players to identify their strengths and potential weaknesses, it can be revealed.

The clubs signed a deal this season with a personal genetics company to provide DNA profiles of both senior and academy players.

The profiles, obtained via a simple mouth swab, disclose the players' balance of speed and endurance genes, whether they have injury-prone genes and the best nutrition to fit their DNA.

The company, DNAFit, is also working with a leading European team but insists all three clubs' identities must remain confidential.

It has confirmed to Press Association Sport, however, that it is working with Britain's 800m runner Jenny Meadows, a bronze medallist at the 2009 world championships and 2011 European indoor champion.

The whole issue of genes in sport has become controversial after the World Anti-Doping Agency banned gene doping.

But Keith Grimaldi, DNAFit's chief scientific officer, said the profiles merely enable experts to identify certain genes which make athletes prone to specific injuries, the right kind of nutrition for individual sports people, and to provide an exact breakdown of their proportion of 'power' or 'endurance' genes.

Grimaldi said however that there was no 'Lionel Messi gene' identifiable which suggested a person had a talent for football.

He told Press Association Sport: "We are not going to turn a fourth division footballer into a Premiership player but it is going to make small but important differences which could make an impact long term.

"When the England team go to Brazil we could know in advance who has a very high risk of sunstroke or sunburn, who has a very low risk, and who is in between. That is useful information and it is far better to know it than not.

"We believe the profiling can help with personalising the training - we look at about 15 genes associated with power and endurance and we see very wide range among footballers.

"Some are fast over short distances while an endurance footballer is able to cover every blade on the pitch. That may be obvious anyway, but it can help tailor training for the individual player.

"Genetic profiling is also is useful to identify those with a higher than average injury risk - there is a genetic component to tendon injuries and training regimes can counter this."

The other area is nutrition, and Grimaldi said DNA profiling had been able to help some footballers who struggle with losing weight because they have a gene which affects the absorption of fats.

Meadows, 32, who is targeting Commonwealth and European medals this year, is using the DNA information in her training but said she wished she had had the benefit of genetic profile at the start of her career.

The athlete has discovered she has the gene that makes her prone to tendon injury, and it was an Achilles problem that saw her miss the London 2012 Olympics.

She told Press Association Sport: "I do feel a little bit gutted that the technology has only become available now.

"In the last two years I have had two major injuries, and it was an Achilles injury that kept me out of the London 2012 Olympics.

"The DNA profile does show I am prone to tendon injuries which I didn't really know, so maybe I could have changed things in my training. Instead of going out running on the road maybe I would have done more cross-training or work in the pool."

Meadows also believes she would have concentrated on the 800m earlier instead of combining it with 400m running.

She added: "The thing that really staggered me was to be exactly 50 per cent speed and 50 per cent endurance, which is absolutely perfect for an 800m runner and perhaps if I had known this I would have concentrated on the 800m a few years earlier instead of pursuing 400m as well.

"Nutrition is going to be the big thing for me because I have to admit my nutrition is not the best - I don't particularly like eating large amounts of fruit and vegetables, so I am hoping the genetic profile will give me clearer guidance of what I can and can't eat."

There have been reports that scientists in Uzbekistan are planning to use genetics to spot future Olympic champions among children, but Grimaldi said that "a stopwatch would be more useful" as a first indicator, and that environment played a huge role in athletes' development.

He added: "There are some companies making some really wild claims - one in the USA had an advert saying 'imagine you could find out what sports your child could excel at before they can walk. Now you can'.

"We don't believe there is any evidence that genetics can be used to select a sport."

DNAFit is also due to announce on Monday that it is involved with a study of 80 athletes at Manchester University.

PA

News
peoplePolice were acting on arrest warrant after actor fled US in 1977
News
Apple CEO Tim Cook
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ukip leader Nigel Farage has been fined £200 by the Electoral Commission
tvNot a nightmare, but the plot of a new TV mockumentary
Travel
<p><strong>15. Plas Teg Mansion, Flintshire</strong></p>
<p>Plas Teg, a Jacobean house near the the village of Pontblyddyn, Flintshire between Wrexham and Mold, is said to be one of Wales' most haunted buildings. One of its late owners was the infamous 'hanging' Judge Jeffries, who is thought to have held court in the home and had people convicted and hanged in the dining room. Reports of paranormal activity include heavy breathing in one bedroom and the spirit of a young girl appearing in the Blue Bedroom.</p>
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Mock the tweet: Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle
peopleIt was a polite exchange of words, as you can imagine
Life and Style
fashion
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain