View Full Version : Ban on Caffeine?

05-11-2006, 07:21 AM
For most endurance athletes, a couple of 100-mg caffeine pills taken an hour or so before a race will increase power output by a few percent. The International Olympic Committee therefore lists caffeine as a banned substance, but the caffeine in such everyday foods as coffee, tea, chocolate, and Coca-Cola has made enforcement of the ban impractical. The IOC has therefore somewhat ambiguously made caffeine also a restricted substance by setting an upper limit on the amount athletes can have in a urine sample. A 70-kg athlete would probably exceed the limit by drinking more than 5 cups of strong coffee or 5 liters of Coke.
Now there's been a call to enforce the absolute ban (Graham, 2001). The reason? Caffeine use is unethical, because caffeine is not a "traditional nutrient", and because some athletes take caffeine "for the express purpose of gaining an advantage". The sentiment is well-intentioned, but the reasoning is illogical. Traditional foods contain caffeine, so caffeine is a traditional nutrient. Athletes train hard, eat well, and buy expensive equipment to gain an advantage, but we aren't about to ban those practices. Sure, there's a sense in which caffeine is a drug, and there's a sense in which use of any drug is unethical, even when there is no known health risk. But when the drug is part of normal food, an absolute ban would be more than a great inconvenience: in my view it is unethical to make athletes change customary dietary behaviors for the sake of sport.
It would be appropriate to ban deliberate use of pure caffeine, but it’s unlikely anyone can develop a urine or blood test that would distinguish between the synthetic caffeine in capsules and the natural caffeine in the normal diet. The caffeine in drinks containing extracts of guarana berries would also be a problem. These drinks probably work better than coffee, which contains something that partly counteracts the ergogenic effect of caffeine. Guarana drinks are nevertheless natural, if not traditional, fare that should not be banned.

08-17-2006, 10:36 AM
That is very interesting. I was not aware that caffiene even had a ban for the Olympic Runners. It makes sense that if you don't have it and they take a high dose you are going to gain an edge. You learn something new everday! :D

06-07-2007, 06:54 AM
caffeine is a stimulant...
so um not surprised its banned.