Sports Medicine

, Volume 37, Issue 4–5, pp 424–427 | Cite as

Genotypes and Distance Running

Clues from Africa
  • Robert A. Scott
  • Yannis P. PitsiladisEmail author
Conference Paper


A look at the medal podium in almost any international sporting competition reveals that some athletes and certain countries enjoy regular success in particular events. While environmental influences such as training and diet are important, it is likely that there is also some genetic component to elite athletic performance. One of the most compelling examples of athletic domination is that of east African runners in international distance running competition. This phenomenon has led to the suggestion that east Africans possess some inherent genetic advantage predisposing them to superior athletic performances. The concurrent success of athletes of west African ancestry in sprint events also appears to have augmented this belief given their similar skin colour. A growing body of evidence suggests that genetic variation does influence athletic performance, yet despite the speculation that African athletes have a genetic advantage for physical performance, there is no genetic evidence to suggest that this is the case. The only available genetic studies of elite African athletes do not find that these athletes possess a unique genetic makeup; rather, they serve to highlight the high degree of genetic diversity in east African populations and also among elite east African athletes.


Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Endurance Performance Athletic Performance Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Gene Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Genotype 
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The authors have indicated that they have no affiliation or financial interest in any organisation(s) that may have a direct interest in the subject matter of this article.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Centre for East African Running Science (ICEARS), Faculty of Biomedical and Life Sciences (FBLS)University of GlasgowGlasgowUK

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