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Br J Sports Med 20:56-59 doi:10.1136/bjsm.20.2.56
  • Research Article

Alcohol and its effects on sprint and middle distance running.

Abstract

Alcohol has been used as an aid to performance for a considerable period of time in many athletic endeavours. Five sprinters and five middle distance athletes were tested to determine whether differing levels of alcohol (0.01 mg X ml-1, 0.05 mg X ml-1 and 0.10 mg X ml-1) had differing effects upon performance times in the 100 m, 200 m, 400 m, 800 m and 1500 m events. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was estimated from breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) using a hand held Drager Alcotest 7310 and a Borkenstein Breathalyser. Alcohol affected all but the 100 m event to varying degrees. In the 200 m the performance decreased when the level of intoxication increased. This was not the case in the 400 m which showed a difference between the two lower levels of alcohol consumption (0.01 mg X ml-1 to 0.05 mg X ml-1) but not between the 0.05 mg X ml-1 and 0.10 mg X ml-1. In the middle distance events the 800 m was most adversely affected. We concluded that alcohol is not an ergogenic aid in so much that it does not improve performance. In the 100 m events, performance remained stable. More research in this area is warranted.