Gregan's disclosure over caffeine use may force tablets back on banned list

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The Independent Online

The World Anti-Doping Agency is to consider putting caffeine tablets back on the banned substance list after several Australian athletes, including the national rugby union captain, George Gregan, admitted to taking them.

The World Anti-Doping Agency is to consider putting caffeine tablets back on the banned substance list after several Australian athletes, including the national rugby union captain, George Gregan, admitted to taking them.

The tablets were removed from the list early last year, but the doping watchdog is continuing to monitor their use for signs of possible abuse. Although there is no suggestion that anyone has broken the rules, David Howman, the WADA director-general, said the agency was alarmed at the increasing use.

"That's troubling. That disturbs us," Howman said. "The only laboratory in the world that indicates a little bit of a worrying trend, is the one in Australia. It was a substance that we thought wasn't being abused and wasn't being used for performance enhancing [because] you had to have at least 12 cups of coffee to get over the level or start swallowing tablets."

WADA's announcement followed Gregan's admission that he and a number of his Wallabies team-mates had taken caffeine tablets before big games. Gregan claimed the pills boosted his performance by seven per cent and had been approved by the Australian Institute of Sport. Several Australian Rules Football players have also admitted using caffeine tablets.

"Most guys take it before the game and that sustains them to half-time when they'll do the usual thing of having water or a sports supplement drink and that's it," Gregan said. "You can get seven per cent extra work output from these tablets and that's a big increase at this end of sport."

Several former players criticised Gregan, claiming it could encourage children to use the tablets. "It's stupid for George to say something like that," said the former Test player David Campese. "I don't think he understands the true implications of what is a basic endorsement of this kind of substance. I know they're not illegal but there are kids out there who look on George as a hero."

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