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It has helped Russian cosmonauts but it is forbidden to those attempting giant leaps on the ground. Bromontan is the latest doping agent added to the list of banned substances by the International Olympics Committee.

Five athletes, four Russian and one Lithuanian, were disqualified during the 1996 Olympics after traces of bromontan were found in their urine. Although the disqualifications were cancelled on appeal, the committee decided to ban the drug.

Two french toxicologists writing in The Lancet say the effects of bromontan, which is little known in the west, are to increase powers of concentration and stimulate physical activity. This explains its use by Russian soldiers and cosmonauts.

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