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. 2017 Dec;47(12):2497-2506.
doi: 10.1007/s40279-017-0764-5.

Nicotine: Sporting Friend or Foe? A Review of Athlete Use, Performance Consequences and Other Considerations

Free PMC article

Nicotine: Sporting Friend or Foe? A Review of Athlete Use, Performance Consequences and Other Considerations

Toby Mündel. Sports Med. .
Free PMC article


Nicotine use amongst athletes is high and increasing, especially in team sports. This narrative review examines the rationale behind its use and evidence of its effect on physical performance, and considers important factors that should determine future research efforts. To date, ten studies have assessed muscular strength and power, sub- or maximal endurance and high-intensity exercise when nicotine (medication) or smokeless tobacco was used as an intervention. Two studies observed an ergogenic effect, one an ergolytic with the remaining seven reporting no change. These studies have notable limitations and confounding factors that include participant tolerance to nicotine, interindividual responses, the nicotine delivery system used and failure to adhere to rigorous experimental/scientific design. Further research is encouraged to address these limitations and determine the extent to which anti-doping and governing bodies should consider promoting, coordinating and monitoring any effort against nicotine and nicotine-containing substances in sports.

Conflict of interest statement

For his nicotine-related research, Toby Mündel has received competitive scientific research funding from the World Anti-Doping Agency and financial travel support to present this research at conferences from The Physiological Society and The Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust.

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