Drugs in sport

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Editor, – I have been the representative of the Internal Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand on the Advisory Editorial Panel of Australian Prescriber for some time. I am writing to you both in this capacity and as a clinical pharmacologist who has had considerable interest in drugs and sport over a long period of time.

The recent article by Professor Fricker (Aust Prescr 2000;23:76-8) is certainly interesting and timely, but it really deals with drugs in elite sport rather than addressing the more serious problem of drug abuse in sport as it relates to the wider community. Many years ago, I wrote an article for Australian Prescriber on this topic.1

There is an error in Professor Fricker's article which does need correction. On two occasions he quotes the prohibited urinary caffeine concentration as >12 nanogram/mL. This is incorrect; the correct concentration is >12 microgram/mL.

Fortunately the error was not in the 'other' direction, as such articles can often be quoted as a defence in tribunals. In a recent article published in the Medical Journal of Australia2, I have added a disclaimer so that such errors do not carry over into the rather complex setting of sports tribunals.

Michael Kennedy
Consultant Physician
Internal Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand


  1. Kennedy M. Drugs and sporting performance. Aust Prescr 1989;12:57-9.
  2. Kennedy MC. Newer drugs used to enhance sporting performance. Med J Aust 2000;173:314-7.