Golfweek has reported that the World Anti-Doping Agency has added nicotine to the list of drugs it will be monitoring to determine potential performance enhancing effects.
The news has been met by golfers and golf blogs (such as here and here) with laughter, with many exclaiming it verges on the ridiculous. With so many golfers on the world professional tours smoking, this is an expected reaction but also one which I would have thought would be a ‘smoking gun’.
“If you’re going to do that, you might as well outlaw drinking, too,” he said. “Alcohol is a drug, as is nicotine. I mean, if you really wanted to get down to it, caffeine is a stimulant, too.”
Of course, he’s absolutely correct if caffeine and alcohol also produce a performance enhancing effect and they have both been monitored closely by WADA in the past. Alcohol is on the banned list already for a number of sports including archery and the jury on the performance enhancing effects of caffeine are very much still out. But we’ll assume Glover knew that and give him the benefit of the doubt for the moment.
I’m amazed at the knee jerk reaction to this news from golfers and the wider golf community.
Firstly, WADA is not adding nicotine to the list of banned substances, but it is just monitoring the drug after a Swiss study pointed to an alarmingly high rate of nicotine use among athletes. The study also showed its use increased vigilance and cognitive function, as well as reducing stress. In short, it has similar effects to adrenaline.
Secondly, the averse reaction is probably due to the prevalence of tobacco use in society. We’re all probably somewhat indoctrinated to believe it would have no performance enhancing effect because “old uncle Arthur smoked for 50 years and he’s not an athletes left toe”. The same goes for coffee and alcohol.
There is obviously the question that even if it is found to be performance enhancing, would it help your golf game?
But irrespective of the result, if someone came into the locker room and suggested you take this drug that would increase your alertness, lower your stress levels and increase your heart rate, you’d be very sceptical as to whether it was legal or not.
Common sense says it should be monitored because there is a possibility it may enhance performance. But there is not much common sense spoken in the golf blog world on the topic right now.