A study of UK athletes revealed that 33% of track and field athletes and 60% of competitive cyclists took caffeine as a performance enhancer.
Caffeine was removed from the banned substance list four years ago by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), yet many athletes still consider it to enhance performance.
In an editorial in BMJ Clinical Evidence, Mark Stuart who was a pharmacist for the Sydney Olympics and Manchester and Melbourne Commonwealth Games, cited one study that indicated continued widespread use of caffeine, and two studies that suggested the placebo effect as a possible reason.
‘The placebo effect may reconcile the disparity between the current culture of caffeine use in sport and the current WADA position,’ Mr Stuart said.
‘Given the evidence-driven backing of WADA from the scientific community, the likelihood of widespread caffeine use at this month’s Olympics will, hopefully, not threaten the integrity of fair play in sport,’ he added.
The Beijing Olympics are due to open on 8 August.