Is caffeine going to be banned by WADA?

Excuse the click-bait headline, but I just got the latest RaceClean newsletter from USA Cycling and saw that caffeine is now listed under the WADA ‘Monitoring List’. Anyone know if this is a new addition to the list? Or has it been on there previously?

To quote: "The Monitoring List outlines what substances and methods are currently being watched and could end up being banned effective January 1, 2020 (the List is updated annually on January 1). In order for a substance or method to be placed on the Prohibited List it has to meet two out of three criteria:

  1. It has the potential to enhance or enhances performance;
  2. It represents an actual or potential health risk to the Athlete;
  3. It violates the spirit of sport (this definition is outlined in the Code"

Drink your coffee while you still can! :slight_smile: :coffee:

It’s a new addition, but I think it will be prohibitively difficult to “ban” caffeine due to the practical realities of how pervasive it is across so many food items.

They might implement an upper limit, but again, it depends on the feasibility of testing for it without creating false positives.

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Right, that was my initial thought. Presumably they are thinking of placing a ‘cap’ on it, rather than a ban. That would be a logistical nightmare. :slight_smile:

It’s also difficult due to different rates of how people metabolize caffeine. It’s such a tough thing to regulate.


Wasn’t there a ban/cap on caffeine before? It just seems silly. Hard to say if they’re seriously looking at this, or maybe they’ve had some instances where it looks like athletes are taking huuge doses of it, which probably isn’t safe, and so they’re going through the motions. Regardless, as a daily lots-of-coffee-drinker, I’m not terribly happy to hear it’s on the table. Teatotalers won’t be happy until they’ve ruined everything.

Secondary observation: the gluccocorticoids item they’ve identified, based on the routes, it looks like they’re now considering banning Flonase? That would upset me as well. It’s nice to not have a stuffy nose all year, you know?

“Clean this sport up, if it’s the last thing we do”, indeed…

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Caffeine has actually been on the monitoring list for a few years now. This is not anything new. It’s simply a step in the process they have to take if they want to institute a ban.


Caffeine was recently banned. Right? Then they un-banned it.

In the 2000’s it was a banned substance. The problem is that pretty much everybody in the western world is addicted to caffeine…and we all have different genetically determined clearance rates…so throw in a little dehydration and you’ve got salbutamol all over again. Froome throws money at it and get off…Ulissi gets 9 months.

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I’m sorry, but this is getting beyond ridiculous. I’m in the minority here, but I could care less about drug use. Yes, I come from the stand point that walks are boring, and homeruns are awesome (McGwire, Canseco, Bonds, Sosa) Hey, it’s our right to agree to disagree. But, a caffeine ban? Give me a break.


IIRC it was banned at certain levels in the not too distant past and then unbanned but still subject to certain levels.

Interestingly it’s one of the few substances actually scientifically shown to boost performance, the science on a whole host of performance enhancing drugs is inconclusive at best.

I can’t see it happening based on needing to meet 2/3 of the criteria. Assuming the first is pretty much a given based on current research, but the other 2 criteria don’t stack up at all.

The LDL for caffeiene is far above the levels that are performance enhancing (at least x10, based on c.10g LDL, and usual dose of 200-1000mg). It very much falls into the ‘too much of anything will kill you’ bracket. 10x too much water could just as easily kill you at 10x too much caffeine.
… and that’s before you get into caffeine having general health benefits for metabolism etc.

For 3)… coffee IS part of the spirit of cycling. Most of the pro peloton, and a huge proportion of amateur riders, competitive and non-competitive, are drinking coffee before, during and after their rides, as much as a social activity as anything else. Coffee culture is part of the sport, and a very positive part at that.

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I can train in the morning without food. VO2max, threshold, whatever, give it to me. But I need my coffee before I start turning the pedals.


Any substance that is performance-enhancing but non-harmful in large quantities should be called nutrition! :crazy_face:

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For the third criterion, I think critics would point to the heavy use of caffeine pills, rather than coffee drinking.

Will never happen, for the same reason alcohol is permitted and cannabis is not (cultural acceptance).

For a good read on this subject, get “Spitting In The Soup”, which is about doping in sports.

One of the interesting premises is that it only became a problem because of the Cold War, because Eastern Bloc nations were so good at it, and it was government sponsored. Up until that time, fans applauded athletes who “did what it took” to win.

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@jctonett I heard something about that some time ago. Right, wrong, or indifferent, when millions of dollars are at stake, the dollar will prevail. It is what it is

When I started racing in 1986 there was a limit on the amount of caffeine that you could have in your urine. This persisted at least through the 90’s (then I took a long sabbatical from racing). When I returned to racing in 2014, I was surprised to find there was no longer a limit and I didn’t need to worry about drinking my usual daily amount of coffee any longer.