How a woman whose muscles disappeared discovered she shared a disease with a muscle-bound Olympic medalist

David Epstein in ProPublica:

ScreenHunter_1652 Jan. 26 19.59Two years ago, I wrote a book called “The Sports Gene” that examines the intersection of genetics and athleticism. I expected my mother to buy a dozen copies and invite me to her book club and that would be the end of it. (She did.) Instead, I was almost immediately bombarded with emails from people wanting to know if their kid has Serena Williams’ genes. One coach emailed, wondering how one would get athletes involved in genetic experimentation.

They were coming so quickly, and many were so unhinged, that I took a brief break from opening them.

And then I got one that had this subject heading: “Olympic medalist and muscular dystrophy patient with the same mutation.” Now that caught my attention. I wondered if it might point me to some article or paper in a genetics journal about an elite athlete I’d somehow missed.

Instead, it was a personal note from a 39-year-old Iowa mother named Jill Viles. She was the muscular dystrophy patient, and she had an elaborate theory linking the gene mutation that made her muscles wither to an Olympic sprinter named Priscilla Lopes-Schliep. She offered to send me more info if I was interested. Sure, I told her, send more.

More here.