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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2000 March;40(1):71-9

Copyright © 2002 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

lingua: Inglese

Caffeine use in sports. A pharmacological review

Sinclair C. J. D., Geiger J. D.

From the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


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Caffeine is the ­most wide­ly ingest­ed psy­cho­ac­tive ­drug in the ­world. As ­many ­know, chron­ic use of caf­feine ­leads to depen­dence, tol­er­ance, ­drug crav­ing, and ­upon ­abrupt ces­sa­tion unpleas­ant with­draw­al symp­toms. Thus, caf­feine ful­fills phar­mac­o­log­i­cal cri­te­ria by ­which ­agents are clas­si­fied as ­drugs of ­abuse. Nevertheless, its use is ­legal and ­only at ­high, but read­i­ly attain­able, lev­els is it ­banned ­from ­sport. Its use is wide­spread by ath­letes as ­young as 11 ­years of age who are seek­ing ath­let­ic advan­tage ­over fel­low com­pet­i­tors. It is like­ly ­that its use ­will not ­decline any ­time ­soon ­because it is inex­pen­sive, read­i­ly avail­able, med­i­cal­ly ­quite ­safe, social­ly accept­able, and by ­most meas­ures ­legal. However, at lev­els ­allowed in ­sport, caf­feine ­through its ­wide-rang­ing phys­io­log­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal ­effects increas­es endu­rance in ­well-­trained ath­letes. If the ­goal of ­drug-test­ing and edu­ca­tion pro­grams in ­sport is to pro­tect the ­health of ath­letes, pre­vent un­fair advan­tage (cheat­ing) and encour­age eth­i­cal behav­ior ­then it ­seems obvi­ous ­that the allow­able lev­els of caf­feine inges­tion ­should be ­decreased. The alter­na­tive is to con­tin­ue ­with pol­i­cies ­designed large­ly to pun­ish ­only ­those ­that get ­caught.

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