How Compatible are High-Level Sports and Nicotine?

Nicotine, the addictive agent found in cigarettes and e-cigarettes (in lower amounts) is reportedly used by athletes to drive performance. The Word Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has classified the agent as part of its monitoring program but is not banning the substance. It seems rather preposterous at first, to consider that nicotine may be seen as a doping substance.

But according to journalist Andreas Chazy, athletes sometimes smoke a cigarette strategically; say just before a cycle journey. The truth is, nicotine increases blood pressure and heart beat. Interestingly, in the 1900s, soccer played used to chew tobacco before, during, and after a competition.

Considering all the negative side effects of smoking tobacco, let alone chewing in, athletes have begun to take it in without the harmful effects of smoke. The use of smokeless tobacco products through e liquid flavours is growing, along with nicotine gums and patches. Some of the best e liquid UK products can be found on no1 e juice.

“Indeed, active nicotine consumption in ice hockey, skiing, biathlon, bobsleigh, skating, football, basketball, volleyball, rugby, American football, wrestling and gymnastics was found to range between 19.0 and 55.6%.” – Marclay et al., 2011

Nicotine consumption is especially prevalent in American football, where over 50% of players consume the substance. Nicotine also apparently plays a significant part in appetite suppression, meaning athletes may gain an advantage in being able to maintain their body composition throughout the season. It also provides:

  • Enhanced concentration
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Placebo effect of improving performance

There’s no evidence to suggest that nicotine improves muscular performance, which is why we suggest that the performance advantage athletes supposedly gain from nicotine, is nothing but a false dichotomy. In actuality, nicotine can cause muscle cramps, which is why the athletes that do use it, do so conscientiously.

Prolonged long-term ingestion of nicotine also has adverse effects on the body. It may take some time for nicotine to be classified by the WADA as a prohibited substance, but either way, those that use it need to be careful about its use. The answer as to whether nicotine is compatible with level sports is a delicate question.

On the one hand, nicotine is popular with athletes for a reason. On the other, the long-term effects associated with consuming nicotine are perhaps not so clear to see. Naturally, that may mean athletes are making a short-term gain (that seems relatively small – with no evidence to suggest improved muscular performance) at the cost of a long-term loss.

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