CNS Stimulants and Athletic Performance

  • Galen R. Wenger


In an effort to find a short cut that will reduce the time and effort required to become competitive or to meet the challenge of the moment, it has been all too common an occurrence in the history of man to try chemicals of various types to improve both mental and physical performance. Examples of this range from students trying to obtain a better grade, to athletes trying to shave seconds off the time required to perform an athletic feat, to the military’s use of chemicals to help soldiers perform heroic feats of endurance in an effort to defeat the enemy. The first reported use of drugs to increase or improve athletic performance predates the birth of Christ. It is reported in the writings of Homer that Greek athletes consumed mushrooms prior to athletic events to improve their performance. More recently, during the nineteenth century, there were widespread reports of athletes using caffeine, alcohol, nitroglycerine, ethyl ether, and opium.1 However, it was not until the unfortunate death of a Danish cyclist during the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome that the attention of the world was drawn to this serious problem. Today, drug use by athletes involves several classes of drugs; however, this chapter will restrict itself to a discussion of the use of three drugs or drug classes: amphetamines, cocaine, and caffeine.


Physical Performance Bicycle Ergometer Athletic Performance Caffeine Ingestion Work Output 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Galen R. Wenger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyUniversity of Arkansas for Medical SciencesLittle RockUSA

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