On Friday it was announced that drinking would no longer be allowed when providing a doping control sample in Russia. When an athlete is asked to produce a sample after an event, they are typically quite dehydrated, especially in the sport of track and field or road racing. Sometimes, an athlete will choose to drink a beer over water in an attempt to produce a sample.
According to the Toronto Star, track and field athletes were a catalyst for the ban. The Russian anti-doping agency’s deputy CEO, Margarita Pakhnotskaya, said that drinking was a particular issue with the track athletes. “It is not very good for athletes’ behaviour at doping control, politeness and following the rules,” she said. “They’d be rude, a bit aggressive.” Alcohol was removed from WADA’s banned substance list in 2018.
As runners, we’re told to consume alcohol in moderation and avoid excessive intake around key competition dates. Rachel Hannah, a registered dietitian and marathoner, says, “Alcohol isn’t providing any nutritional value, but you have to think of the whole person.” What Hannah means is that athletes, like everyone else, enjoy a social drink from time to time and that is alright.
The United States Olympic Committee sport nutrition team says that regular consumption of alcohol in moderation may have some health benefits in terms of disease risk reduction, especially cardiovascular disease, but the association is not as convincing as is sometimes assumed. “There are reasons to believe that acute alcohol intake may impair performance of endurance exercise because of effects on metabolic, cardiovascular and thermoregulatory function, and that its neurological actions may affect performance of skilled tasks because of effects on reaction time, fine motor control, levels of arousal, and judgment.”