October SW Magazine: Are Caffeinated Energy Drinks a Performance Enhancing Drug?

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In the October issue of Swimming World Magazine, CEO and Publisher Brent Rutemiller tackles the hot topic of how caffeinated energy drinks affect swimmers performances in this month’s Voice for the Sport. Should there be a monitoring system in place? Read the full reprint of the article below:

A Voice for the Sport
Are Caffeinated Energy Drinks a Gateway to Performance-Enhancing Drugs?

One of the hot topics at the American Swimming Coaches Association’s World Clinic in New Orleans last month was the use of energy drinks by young swimmers during competition.

I talked with some coaches, and they confirmed the proliferation of Red Bull, Monster and Rock Star drinks throughout their programs. All confirmed that it was the parents–not the coaches–supplying these drinks to the children.

John Leonard, executive director of ASCA, said that the proof is everywhere: “Just look at the trash left on the deck and in trash cans after swim meets.”

On Aug. 1 of this year, I listened to a United States Senate hearing on energy drinks and the industry’s advertising practices. The goal of the meeting was to learn to what extent energy manufacturers were marketing to children 12 to 18.

The industry executives claimed that they were targeting young adults, but the evidence clearly proved that they were targeting the pre-teens and young teenagers. Search “Senate hearing on energy drinks” on the Internet to learn more about this important discussion.

Caffeine used to be one of the substances banned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed caffeine from its list of banned substances in 2004. Although not banned, caffeine is still being monitored. If WADA finds enough athletes with elevated levels of caffeine in their systems, WADA will revisit its policy to determine if caffeine should go back on its list of banned substances.

Even if caffeine does go back onto the banned list, current methods for testing drugs are extremely expensive and are limited to elite athletes.

Swimming World Magazine supports the use of high-throughput screening (HTS) procedures, which would allow for mass testing, including caffeine, for just pennies on the dollar (estimated to be 22 cents vs. $90 per current testing procedures) and recommends that the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) implement high-throughput screening procedures as a pretest to existing procedures.

With an inexpensive screening procedure that can be administered to the masses, our sport will easily be able to detect early abnormalities that could then be followed up with more rigorous testing procedures.

The industry executives at the Senate hearing took very little responsibility for their products falling into the hands of youth, saying that it was up to the parents to police the use of their product. If this is true, then is it only a matter of time before the parents’ medicine cabinet also comes on the pool deck?

Many parents in the United States use human growth hormones (HGH) to stop aging, reduce fat and rebuild muscles. This trend, along with the fact that one out of every 12 adults has an inhaler, makes the household medicine cabinet a modern-day dispensary for performance-enhancing substances. What is stopping parents from sharing the benefits from these “everyday” drugs with their children?

With no proof in hand, other than an onslaught of national age group records being shattered in 2013 all across the country, suspicions are mounting that parents are providing more than just moral support to their children.

Brent T. Rutemiller
Publisher, CEO

Curious about what else you will find inside the October issue of Swimming World Magazine? Watch this month’s Inside Swimming World video to find out!

ON THE COVER: There were several swimmers from the U.S. Junior Nationals in August who showed promise as potential American stars of tomorrow. Among them: Gunnar Bentz, 17, of the Dynamo Swim Club in Georgia. After winning three events at juniors, he won both IMs with championship records (1:59.44, 4:14.97) at the World Junior Championships in Dubai. [Photo Credit: Peter Bick]


010 FINA World Championships: Life after Phelps by Jeff Commings
The words, “Michael Phelps” and “world records,” dominated the headlines of this summer’s World Championships, as the absence from the sport of the Greatest Olympian of All Time sometimes overshadowed the electric performances in the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona.

016 USA’s Promising Talent by David Rieder

American swimmers have dominated their sport for years. But who will carry the torch internationally in the years to come? The performances at this year’s U.S. Junior Nationals in August show that there are plenty of top-notch athletes waiting in the wings. Here’s a quick look at four of those potential stars.

020 Connecting through Sport by Garrett Weber-Gale

The Maccabiah Games hosts many competitions around the world that are all focused on bringing Jewish athletes together for competition and to take part in a cultural event unlike anything else…anywhere!

027 Dryside Training: Cross-Training Activities by J.R. Rosania

028 Ask Dr. Shannon: Neck Stretches by Shannon McBride

029 Q&A with Coach Stu Kukla by Michael J. Stott

030 How They Train Mike McBryan and Emily Kosten by Michael J. Stott

031 Art of the Start by Michael J. Stott

With races decided by hundredths of a second, it’s important to practice the start on a regular basis and try to be first off the blocks.

043 The ZAC Foundation: Saving Children’s Lives by Shoshanna Rutemiller

Karen and Brian Cohn, who lost their 6-yearold son, Zac, to a drowning accident, want to ensure that no other family endures the death of a child in a water-related tragedy.

046 USSSA: Water SMART Babies by Lana Whitehead Water

SMART Babies is a program in which pediatricians actually prescribe swimming lessons for children.


008 A Voice for the Sport
022 Holiday Gift Guide
036 Prep School Listings
048 Parting Shot