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Coffee Enthusiast Beware! World Anti-Doping Agency Is onto You

By Adam Marsal

Is this the end of the café racers? Cyclists’ favourite beverage is not far from being put on the blacklist by World Anti-Doping Agency.

Road cycling and coffee comes together as chain and lube. Even though you can ride without it, things glide much smoother when put together. Unfortunately, dark times are unfolding upon us – darker than the darkest shot of espresso coffee you have ever had. World Anti-Doping Agency is set to add caffeine to their list of banned substances in the professional cycling for the next year.

Undoubtedly, coffee has become a part of cycling culture. Around the world, you can find infinite numbers of cycling cafés where people gather to replenish energy after or during the ride. The Rapha mobile coffee trucks and vans equipped with a fully functioning espresso bar, serving hot and cold beverages to the deserving cyclists, are the typical example of a perfect coexistence of both cycling and coffee lifestyles. Even if you enter some garage company building custom frames like the Festka in Prague, a cup of fresh espresso is the first thing the guys usually offer you.

However, coffee drinking and race cycling may be banned in the close future. According to the Russian Federal Microbiological Agency chief Vladimir Uiba, a professional cyclist being forced to refrain from their daily caffeine shots could become a reality next year.

At the moment, caffeine is on WADA’s waiting list of prohibited substances. Does it mean that our popular hot beverage powering us on the roads of pain would be poured into the same toilet bowl with EPO or steroids? “If it eventually makes its way into the list, we will be forced to recommend everyone against drinking coffee as well as soft drinks containing caffeine,” Vladimir Uiba said.

WADA’s study will advance until September when the agency would announce a three-month notice that the substance is going to be added to its prohibited list the next year. To be put on the list, the substance must meet at least two of the following criteria – it has the potential to enhance performance, it poses a health risk to athletes or it violates “the spirit of sport”.

Caffeine was already on the list once, but it was removed in 2004. Prior to that, the threshold was 12 micrograms per ml in urine, which represented the equivalent to around eight cups of espresso. According to the WADA spokeswoman Maggie Durand, the agency is extremely careful that normal food consumption does not interfere with anti-doping tests and Mr. Uiba exaggerated given information.

At this point, we can’t predict whether caffeine is likely to return to the prohibited list, yet if the things go wrong, we can slowly prepare for the hot water period.