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Nicotine enhances performance

Nicotine is likely to be classified a performance-enhancing drug after the World Anti-Doping Agency meets on Saturday to update its list of substances prohibited in sport.

WADA is likely to act after receiving a report from its accredited laboratory in Lausanne that noted performance-enhancing effects of nicotine.

The performance-enhancing effects of nicotine included increased “vigilance and cognitive function” and “reduced stress and body weight”, the laboratory reported after a year-long study published by the Forensic Science International journal.

” … nicotine also triggers a significant increase of pulse rate, blood pressure, blood sugar and epinephrine release owing to simultaneous stimulant and relaxant properties,” the laboratory reported.

The laboratory researchers noted that smokeless tobacco was “a very attractive drug from a doping perspective” because it did not damage an athlete’s breathing and respiratory system.

The laboratory established that 15 per cent of athletes actively used nicotine – compared with 25 per cent of the general population – after conducting tests on 2185 urine samples taken from 43 sports.

Athletes in ice hockey, gymnastics, rugby and skiing were “above-average” users of nicotine, the report noted.

And 19 per cent of samples taken from soccer players showed traces of nicotine having been used “before or/and during sport practice”.

“WADA and sport federations should evaluate the inclusion of nicotine to the Prohibited List or/and Monitoring Program,” the laboratory reported .

The WADA ruling panel will meet in Lausanne this weekend to establish changes in the status of doping products and methods.

Changes noted will then come into force in January.

Caffeine and Viagra have also been evaluated for potential doping effects.

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