Professor of sport science says that the idea of using 'psycho-active' drugs shouldn't be immediately dismissed "on the basis of unrelated ethical considerations about doping in sport"


People who cannot stick to training plans to get fit should consider doping, says an endurance expert.

Professor Samuele Marcora, from the University of Kent, admits the idea is “controversial and drastic”, but points out that drugs are used to help people quit smoking or to treat obesity with no ethical problems.

Using “psycho-active drugs” to overcome the barriers to exercise and fitness could be the way forward, argues Prof Marcora, Director of Research at the University of Kent’s School of Sport and Exercise Science, because it’s the perception of effort that stops sedentary people taking regular exercise.

“Compared to watching television (zero effort), even moderate-intensity physical activities like walking require considerable effort,” says the prof. “Reducing the perception of effort during exercise using caffeine or other psychoactive drugs could help many people stick to their fitness plans,” he adds.

Watch: What are training zones?

The professor even goes as far as naming suitable drugs. Methylphenidate and modafinil could do the trick, he says.

Methylphenidate stimulates the central nervous system and is often used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Modafinil promotes alertness and wakefulness and is often used to treat excessive sleepiness seen in people with narcolepsy or sleep disorders associated with shift work.

Prof Marcora says that physical inactivity is a major threat to public health and he says that treatment of it using drugs should “be considered fairly and seriously rather than immediately rejected on the basis of unrelated ethical considerations about doping in sport.”

The University of Kent has an excellent reputation in sports science and has been frequently associated with respected academic papers.

Prof Marcora’s work, Can Doping be a Good Thing? Using Psychoactive Drugs to Facilitate Physical Activity Behaviour, which appears in the journal Sports Medicine, is likely to promote a vigorous debate.

  • ed

    The drug he’s talking about is caffeine. He also mentions mild amphetamines, but the article is really about caffeine.

    His article is here : link.springer. com/article/10.1007/s40279-015-0412-x

  • Stryder T.A

    It’s not that simple Lee, obesity isn’t just related to being straight up lazy and some people can’t just harden the f##k up as you say, it can be generational and the idea of using a psyco active drug to motivate and concentrate people to get them moving and into the habit of excercise is an idea worth studying, once active and in the habit you can ween a person of psyco active drugs reasonably easily. This story is less about doping and more about ways of helping people get active (in the worst cases)

  • Simon Barnes

    What next I wonder coke and epo on the nhs but only if you lazy…? LMFAO

  • Andrew Bairsto

    Not only amateur racing, masking agents and doctors are three step’s ahead of testers and testing in TT’s is a joke.

  • cxc

    I do. I would prefer it if other people didn’t harm themselves. I can’t stop them but that doesn’t mean I don’t care.

  • phill

    If they don’t compete or break the law who cares what others do?

  • maprun

    In my experience the biggest barrier to exercising is inertia, rather the individual considering the benefit/reward verses effort. I don’t see how the suggested idea deals with the inertia problem.

  • cxc

    So are cocaine and and methamphetamine. The fact that a drug is not banned does not make it good for you. Methylphenidate can cause psychoses for a start.

  • J1

    So drink more coffee?

  • J1

    I’m not a big fan of Chrysanthemums personally.

  • phill

    Both drugs named are stimulants banned in competition but not out so who cares if people use them or not

  • Lee Wingate

    This is a BAD precedent. So assuming lazy people take drugs, get good and then decide to race! It’s frustrating enough that idiots in amateur racing dope it’s even worse that an academic is virtually recommending it (I’m sure he’s perhaps not thought along those lines).

    If you want to get fit, the only true way is employ Rule #5. Harden the f@@k up and push harder. There are no short cuts to being fit or getting fitter without ruining your health. The answer should never be…. “Take a pill!”

  • ummm…

    strangely, I agree. I’ll do a 50 mile ride every weekend for sure if there was beer at the end of it. Oh, wait. I do that already.