Menthol as an Ergogenic Aid for the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games: An Expert-Led Consensus Statement Using the Modified Delphi Method

Sports Med. 2020 Oct;50(10):1709-1727. doi: 10.1007/s40279-020-01313-9.


Introduction: Menthol topical application and mouth rinsing are ergogenic in hot environments, improving performance and perception, with differing effects on body temperature regulation. Consequently, athletes and federations are beginning to explore the possible benefits to elite sport performance for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, which will take place in hot (~ 31 °C), humid (70% RH) conditions. There is no clear consensus on safe and effective menthol use for athletes, practitioners, or researchers. The present study addressed this shortfall by producing expert-led consensus recommendations.

Method: Fourteen contributors were recruited following ethical approval. A three-step modified Delphi method was used for voting on 96 statements generated following literature consultation; 192 statements total (96/96 topical application/mouth rinsing). Round 1 contributors voted to "agree" or "disagree" with statements; 80% agreement was required to accept statements. In round 2, contributors voted to "support" or "change" their round 1 unaccepted statements, with knowledge of the extant voting from round 1. Round 3 contributors met to discuss voting against key remaining statements.

Results: Forty-seven statements reached consensus in round 1 (30/17 topical application/rinsing); 14 proved redundant. Six statements reached consensus in round 2 (2/4 topical application/rinsing); 116 statements proved redundant. Nine further statements were agreed in round 3 (6/3 topical application/rinsing) with caveats.

Discussion: Consensus was reached on 62 statements in total (38/24 topical application/rinsing), enabling the development of guidance on safe menthol administration, with a view to enhancing performance and perception in the heat without impairing body temperature regulation.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical*
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Delphi Technique
  • Humans
  • Menthol / administration & dosage*
  • Mouthwashes*
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances*
  • Tokyo


  • Mouthwashes
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances
  • Menthol