Saturday, March 26, 2005

Modafinil and cognitive enhancements

Kaufman, K. R. and R. Gerner (2005). "Modafinil in sports: ethical considerations." Br J Sports Med 39(4): 241-244.

Kaufman and Gerner discuss the case of modafinil, asking whether athletes should be sanctioned for this use. The article provides a clear exposition of how the rules of anti-doping apply to the case of Kelli White, who claimed her use of modafinil was therapeutic for narcolepsy. However, due to her failing to file this condition when submitting her doping tests, exemption could not be granted. The authors consider whether this substance is an indication of further doping in sport, since it is unlikely that many cases of athletes with narcolepsy should arise in elite sports, due to the rarity of the condition.

Questions concerning cognitive enhnacements in sports have not been given much attention in the literature. There is considerable scope to question the way in which enhancement is defined in sports by examining these issues. The role of cognitive function in sport is not so easily quantified for performances, since it is not possible to connect specific movements with specific cognitive capacities.

Nevertheless, it is possible to identify a range of activities for which cognitive enhancements are essential and, thus, there WADA believes that there are good reasons to require the World Chess Federation to develop an anti-doping policy.

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