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Energy Drinks Banned at Virginia High School Football Games, Practices

Dangers from high caffeine level seen

Virginia has become the first state in the nation to ban the use of energy drinks such as Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar by student-athletes during high school football games and practices.

The Virginia High School League's executive committee voted 24-2 on emergency legislation banning the popular drinks.  The ban went into effect in time for high school football games on the weekend of September 24th.

"The safety of the athletes is the overwhelming rationale for approval," Tom Dolan, co-director of athletics for the VHSL, told The Baltimore Sun

The Virginia ban is based on an October 2008 position statement by the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the governing body for high school sports, which strongly recommends against the use of energy drinks by young athletes.  Like the NFHS statement, the VHSL ban states that:

  • Because energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine (about 3 times the level in caffeinated soft drinks like Coke and Pepsi), they should not be used for hydration;
  • Energy drinks should not be consumed by athletes who are dehydrated;
  • The lack of regulatory control over energy drinks makes it impossible to ensure their content and purity; and 
  • The use of energy drinks may lead to adverse side-effects, potentially harmful interactions with prescription medications (particularly stimulant medications used to treat ADHD), or positive drug tests.
The penalty for a first violation will an official warning, with stricter penalties possible for repeat or flagrant offenders.  "If a coach intentionally distributes energy drinks at this point, then I think we would put that particular team from that particular school on warning for a year, which means if it happened again during that year, they could be put on probation, which would keep them from going to the playoffs.  We have those kinds of options," Dolan told The Sun.


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Sources: Dunn, K. BaltimoreSun.com, "Virginia High School League bans energy drinks" http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/sports/highschool/varsityletters/2010/09... (accessed September 27, 2010)

Knighton, C. "Energy drinks banned from high school practices, games." The Daily Progress (http://www2.dailyprogress.com/sports/2010/sep/24/energy-drinks-banned-high-school-practices-games-ar-524220/)(accessed September 27, 2010)

Created September 27, 2010