Energy Drinks - Drug Test Warning 22 March 2001 Peter-Johnston Latest News The recent energy drink fad sweeping the country has Australian Swimming chiefs worried that unsuspecting athletes may test positive to high levels of caffeine at in-competition drug tests. As a result of their concerns, the sport's governing bodies are circulating pamphlets warning swimmers of the risks. They are also looking to increase swimmer's awareness of the risks through their drug education programs. The drinks, which are very high in caffeine, are claimed to significantly increase energy levels and vitalise mind and body. The drinks are highly promoted for the common market although not specifically for sport. Yesterday, NSW Swimming Executive Director, Peter Thomas said the association would be distributing circulars warning of the drug-testing dangers to athletes and would also be "increasing the profile of these types of caffeine consumption as part of the usual drug education program." "We do a lot of drug education, and it does address all aspects," Thomas said. "Something that we have considered recently is to include these sort of drinks and supplements as they are becoming more commonplace, and they are so readily available." "Because they are bought over the counter like soft drinks, athletes may not necessarily realise the caffeine content in them and it is, in certain doses, a prohibited substance." "They have got to be aware of it, and that if you consume enough of them, the level of caffeine could be such that it puts you into the prohibited range, and any athlete, regardless of whether they are high-profile or not, could be subject to testing." Individual coaches are also warning their swimmers to steer clear of the energy drinks. Caffeine is targeted by drug-testers during competition. As a stimulant drug, if it is taken in sufficient quantity it can produces a positive drug test, resulting in suspension from competition. A spokesman for the Australian Sports Drug Association said caffeine "was a game-day enhancer" designed to give athletes a "boost or pep-up". As a result, there was no out-of-competition testing. There are no hard and fast rules about how many energy drinks, cups of coffee or other products can be consumed as this depends on a number of factors, including body weight and metabolism. Athletes using these products may have high levels of caffeine and it's by-products and are likely to exceed the drug testing limits, which amounts to cheating. Swimmers are advised to avoid using caffeine during or around competition.