Energy drink to blame for Montsho’s drug mishap

Botswana’s most decorated athlete, Amantle Montsho is facing a two year suspension for failing a routine drug test at the recently ended Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Her A sample test was conducted on Saturday and showed that it contained Methylhexaneamine, a substance considered a stimulant by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Her participation in this Sunday’s 2014 African Championships in Athletics is also in jeopardy. Montsho is the defending champion in the African women’s 400m category, a title she won in the 2012 edition of the tournament in Benin.

Gazette Sport has established that Montsho consumed an energy drink containing the banned substance prior to the Commonwealth Games. A source close to the athlete informed this publication that the former women’s 400m world champion unknowingly consumed the substance and that she was not  aware that she was consuming Methylhexaneamine. One of the energy drinks believed to contain the banned substance is named Anabolic Nitro Extreme Energy Surge.

The substance is in WADA’s prohibited list, it has been banned by sport authorities around the world since 2010. It is prohibited in the USA and not licensed by the European Medicines Agency. It is considered one of the most difficult to detect substances and is commonly used as an energy boosting dietary supplement and can also be found in sports nutrition products. It is commonly found in pre workout energy drinks and nasal decongestants.

In 2012 the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) advised athletes that supplements and nutrition products continue to be the main cause of doping violations. “These products include protein powders, pre workout products, vitamins and energy drinks. Many of these products contain banned substances, which may be revealed only after they cause a positive test. Athletes do not fully appreciate the damage that taking supplements could do to their athletic career,” the CCES stated.

Sports agencies have strict rules against banned substances and they have reiterated the following statement over the past two years, “Athletes are liable for any substance found in their doping control sample, regardless of how it got there.”

Past cases involving Methylhexaneamine
Numerous athletes have failed drug tests as a result of consuming energy drinks that consist of Methylhexaneamine among other ingredients. In 2011, England based rugby player Karena Wihongi was suspended after failing a drug test.

He explained that he consumed an energy drink to quench his thirst during halftime during a league match. South African rugby duo Mahlatse Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson were also sent home from the national team’s European tour in 2010. All three players’ bans were later lifted after their respective associations found out that they had mistakenly consumed the substance.
What Athletes should be cautious of
Experts have urged athletes not to rely on labels because manufacturers are aiming for profits as opposed to informing customers that the products contain banned substances. Other products have alternate names of the banned Methylhexaneamine product. Athletes have  since been urged to consult medical experts before consuming supplements.

Meanwhile, Montsho is believed to be planning to retire after the Rio 2016 Olympics, she will be aged 33. If suspended, she could return in time for the 2016 Brazilian held tournament.