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The Daly Planet

Various Other Articles

Is Clint Bowyer and 5-Hour Energy Next? It's Time for NASCAR to Draw the Line!
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By Carol Einarsson | 07/12/2012
Category: Various Other Articles

See, now this is why I wasn't that concerned over the AJ Allmendinger deal. Now we know (from his PR person, not from NASCAR) that the test results showed he was over the tolerance for a stimulant. Given that he has a sponsor who is -- surprise! -- a stimulant. Fuel in a Bottle lists the following ingredients at their website:

Taurine - an amino acid found naturally in meat, fish, and breast milk (just passing along what I found out from Mayo Clinic). It's thought to improve athletic performance. Up to 3,000 mg per day is considered safe, but the FIAB website doesn't say how much is in the bottle.

Malic Acid - found in sour or tart-tasting foods, when used as a supplement, it reduces muscle fatigue. It also plays a central role in the energy production rates of all cells in the body.

L-phenylalanine - an essential amino acid found in proteins, and changed by the body into tyrosine, another amino acid that's needed to make proteins and brain chemicals including L-dopa, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Since symptoms of phenylalanine deficiency include confusion, lack of energy, depression, and decreased alertness, we can deduce that a supplement of L-phenylalanine would boost alertness, energy, and mental clarity.

Caffeine - We pretty much know what this is, what it does, and how it affects the body. The one variable that's quite important is how it interacts as part of a cocktail of other stimulants.

Glucuronolactone - another naturally-occuring chemical in the body, this one is produced in the liver through the metabolism of glucose. It's been the focal point of many rumors involving medical problems following its consumption. One area for concern is that there is a far higher dosage of this chemical in energy drinks than would be found in a regular diet.

Now, since Fuel in a Bottle does not disclose how much of each of these chemicals is in one shot, we're left wondering. Curiously, they DO say how much of the vitamins and minerals are in a bottle (30mg Niacin, 40mg Vitamin B6, 400mcg Folate, and 500mcg Vitamin B12.) Everything else (as listed above) is merely lumped together as 1870mg in their "energy blend".

So look at that list of ingredients up there again. You've heard of them before, and the last time we had this discussion, it wasn't about a driver's dirty drug test -- it was about a different driver sponsored by a similar product, who nearly lost his life. Let me remind you that Red Bull contains Caffeine, Taurine, Glucuronolactone, and "B group vitamins" (as well as sucrose, glucose, and alpine water), and also doesn't reveal how much of each are in the can.

Remember all the years when NASCAR wouldn't allow certain products (hard liquor, for instance) to sponsor in the series? And remember when the government stepped in and said that cigarettes could no longer advertise on TV? I don't know why I'm drawing those two mandates together, but it seems to me that if a product such as Red Bull, or Fuel in a Bottle are the risk that they are to health and/or a failed drug test, that maybe it's time for NASCAR to say they cannot be part of the sport.

Sure, there's already a crunch when it comes to finding new sponsors, but if a product is going to result in a driver either hospitalized or suspended under a veil of shame for having a dirty drug test, maybe the whole sport is better off without it.

Oh, and are you wondering what ingredients might be in 5 Hour Energy? Taurine, Malic Acid, Phenylalanine, Caffeine, Glucuronalactone, and two extras, citicoline and tyrosine. If I were Clint Bowyer or anyone at all working for Michael Waltrip Racing, I think this might be a good time to consider the value of a proper diet, a good night's sleep, and plenty of water to purify your system.




07/12/2012 5:03 am (1)
If this was the cause of either situation you mention, I don't see why a wave of illness and failed drug test haven't hit the general public. At the convenience store in the morning I see more of these energy drinks being purchased than coffee nowadays, only us oldsters are still using coffee.

These companies can afford to sponsor racing because their product is flying off the shelves. Apparently they work, and with the sheer numbers of people using them,I don't see how an epidemic of illness's and or "dirty" drug test haven't yet swept the country?
I think you are barking up the wrong tree on this issue, but then again I'm no doctor,I only stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last nite.
Bill B
07/12/2012 6:00 am (2)
Overall your point is well made Carol but it's a slippery slope when you ban sponsors just because they produce something is part of the drug test. Budweiser, Coors, Miller Lite. If the FDA is doing their job these energy drinks shouldn't be sold as they currently are if they are dangerous.
Also a good point ezrider714.

07/12/2012 7:26 am (3)
The big question, to me, is at what point do you draw the line between "energy drink" and "drug." Right now, drinks like Red Bull, Fuel in a Bottle, NoS, and so forth are scarcely regulated. Yet, people drink them expecting an effect, perceived or otherwise, on their bodies/minds/alertness.

Last year, I had a bit of an experience with 5 Hour Energy Drink. Long story short, I did not like the effect it had on my ability to sleep that night, and the next day I switched back to Diet Doc.

A.J. Allmendinger, like a lot of young people these days, apparently consumes a lot of energy drinks. Maybe moreso than the average driver, because he gets them for free, I don't know. But if the final analysis shows that these drinks are having the sort of effect on his body that shows up on a drug test, then maybe we have a cautionary tale for everyone.

I mean, even a bottle of aspirin tells you the maximum number of pills you should take in a single day. If these drinks have at least as much effect on the body as OTC drugs, then maybe it's time to regulate them as such?

If there aren't warnings on the sides of these cans/bottles about how much of this stuff you should consume in a day, maybe this would be a good time for the manufacturers to add them. If not, the government will force them to, and that never ends well.
07/12/2012 8:05 am (4)
There are several different things that can cause a false positive on a drug test, and not all of them are illegal or dangerous to your health. Just because a stimulant in an energy drink "MIGHT" have caused a false positive, that does not indicate that a sponsor should be banned from the sport. I agree with Bill B, banning sponsors from the sport is a slippery slope... and one that Nascar would have to tread very lightly... because there are several sponsors that could fall under the banned label if we start picking and choosing. One could say Burger King causes obesity, Budlight causes liver disease...etc.

As for energy drinks, I don't drink them, but... The bottom line is, its up to us as individuals to take responsibility for what we drink and eat. Read labels, know what is in your drinks/food. If there is an ingredient that might cause a false positive on a drug test... don't drink it.

I also agree with ezrider. Energy drinks are very popular, it would seem that if they could cause a false positive, there would be an epidemic of failed drug tests... lol Who knows thought, this could be the case with AJ, personally I hope it is something minor and he is reinstated and able to continue driving.

We shall see what happens with test B.

I can remember when poppy seeds would create a false positive, of course now, because the drug screen for the presence of opiates is so sensitive, some agencies that rely on it have since raised the cut-off level for a positive to 2000 ng/mL, which will now eliminate many of the false positives for poppy seeds. Are poppy seeds banned? No.
07/12/2012 3:42 pm (5)
Hi Carol,

Just in the interests of accuracy here, none of the chemicals you list other than caffeine is a stimulant. It is highly unlikely that NASCAR's drug policy bans caffeine at any level, so it's highly unlikely that the consumption of energy drinks caused the test result.

In general energy drinks work by providing caffeine (a stimulant) and sugar (an energy source); the combination of these creates the "burst of energy" effect the user experiences. The other ingredients ostensibly improve metabolism, thus (theoretically) protecting against weight gain from consuming all the sugar. In practice they probably mostly get excreted.

The FDA requires certain nutritionally required vitamins and minerals to be listed on any product for human consumption, which is why you see those vitamins listed on your Fuel in a Bottle bottle - it's legally required. There is no requirement to list the specific amounts of anything the FDA considers nutritionally irrelevant.

Energy drinks aren't particularly healthy, but then again neither is Coca-Cola or Mountain Dew, which also contain mostly caffeine and sugar. I don't see any good justification for restricting them.

Mallards Motorsports
07/12/2012 3:52 pm (6)
Do any of the ingredients in these energy drinks appear on NASCAR's list of banned/controlled substances? If we don't know the answer to that question it is premature at best to speculate on the possible cause of AJs positive test. It could be any of a 100 things - why even speculate on one of them?

Unless someone is biased against energy drinks in which case this article really does none of us any good.

You have repeatedly linked Vicker's health issues last year to his consumption of Red Bull even though you have not one shred of evidence Red Bull had anything to do with his issue. Aren't you afraid of being sued by Red Bull? (and now by FIAB and Five-hour energy?)

Personally I don't use any of these products and never plan to but the fact they are consumed my hundreds of millions of people in 164 countries (from Wikipedia) with few if any health risks noted then they would seem to be quite a way down the list of things we should be worried about.

And is it possible that AJ, Busch, Vickers, Bowyer etc have never checked what is on the NASCAR banned list and compared it to the products they consume? Seems highly unlikely, especially if they can't tell from the can/bottle how much of a particular ingredient is in it.
07/12/2012 4:50 pm (7)

You make an excellent point regarding Vickers. There was never any indication from his people or the doctors that even remotely suggested his problem was from consuming Red Bull. Think of all the Red Bull sponsored athletes, ever heard of one of them having any kind of energy drink related illness?

Now Carol, since you have conveniently provided the ingredients to many energy drinks, and stated that they are basically the same, why aren't there more drivers testing positive for a 'Stimulant"?

First, I would speculate that most of them dont consume much of the sponsor's product, except for a small amount at appearances or for the camera at the track. Does anyone really think Jr's 1.5 litre drink bottle has AMP in it when he is being interviewed, or that Kyle Busch was always guzzzling NOS or Monster in his interviews?

Now for the conspiracy theory, which is always fun because we still dont know the results of the B test.

It seems pretty convenient that AJ's people are revealing this 'stimulant' story and talking about his sponsors. If there are real questions from his camp, it makes sense to throw this defense out there trying to cover up a possible bigger issue.

I would be willing to bet that If the B test is inconclusive, and I personally believe it will be positive, he will be indefinately suspended pending further tests.

But do I think that an energy drink could be responsible for a failed drug test, or worse an undetected heart and blood problem?

Not bloody likely.

07/13/2012 2:32 pm (8)
@ Mallards:

The list of banned substances is very long. Each section of it includes words to the effect that NASCAR can add additional substances to the list at any time, including after a drug test. So it's fairly moot whether something appears in the list.

As far as I know, every competitor is required to sign that he has read and understood the drug policy as a condition of getting a hard card. I would be surprised if everyone who signs has read the whole thing, and even more so if the compare the ingredients list of everything they buy at the grocery store to the list.

And, as noted above, I'd be very surprised if Allmendinger's problem is an energy drink.

07/14/2012 1:37 am (9)

Regarding Red Bull, do your own research. I did research that was enough to point to Red Bull as a likely candidate for Vicker's problem (sticky blood).

And the whole Internet is waiting for your exploration to find the hazards of Taurine especially when combined with caffeine. I invite you to do your own research.

If you feel I'm biased, no matter what research I post here, you'll suspect it's tainted, so have at it.

And I don't know what makes you think I'm biased. Have I been outspoken about the dangers of energy drinks? Yes. Because I researched and learned about them. Knowledge isn't bias. I guess I'm biased against cocaine, too. Shame on me for my one-sided opinion.

Check out the medical sites and see what you find, and then maybe you'll be "biased" also.

07/14/2012 7:21 am (10)
Something isn't ringing true here. Allmendinger naw says he has not ben informed of a B test date, next week or otherwise. I would tink that both NA$CAR and Allmendinger would want this test done ASAP so they can either clear the air or confirm the finding. This so reeks of what they did with Tim Richmond and to some extent Mayfield.

Can't help but think that the longer it drags out the less chance it has of working out well for AJ.
07/14/2012 10:05 am (11)
@ Blknight3:

It seems to be common for second sample tests to take quite a while (in cycling and olympic sports it seems to often take 30 days or more). I see no reason why NASCAR would care how long it takes, altho (if he's innocent) obviously Allmendinger would want it as soon as possible.

According to press reports, the second sample test will be done at Aegis. This is a flaw in NASCAR's policy, they should do the second sample test at a different facility.

I note that the competitors still do not fully trust NASCAR's implementation of the drug policy - Edwards has suggested the drivers insist on a "B testing facility" as a check against error at the "A test" facility.

07/14/2012 12:07 pm (12)
Completely agree. If you're questioning the accuracy of one test why have the same facility test it again? That's just stupid. If you have surgery and the doctor completely screws up, is he the same guy you have FIX it?

07/15/2012 11:58 am (13)
Here is a link dealing with taurine, that seems to completely suggest the opposite of what you keep pushing. Note the source, the Mayo Clinic, you have probably heard of them.
07/15/2012 12:08 pm (14)
Guess I should be drinking an energy drink, the link I posted is the same as the one you posted in support of your position??

The way I read the article there's nothing dangerous about taurine, it is found in breast milk which very young children thrive on,and is recommended over formula.

It only makes a recommendation on limit of drinks per day, due to no long term studies.

Don't see how this article supports your position in the least, to me it's quite the opposite.
07/15/2012 12:14 pm (15)
What part of that "completely suggests the opposite"? It's easy to say that and then post a link, but can you offer any quotes that say "taurine when combined with caffeine is completely safe and has never been shown to present any adverse effects in health." ? No, didn't think so.

07/15/2012 12:15 pm (16)
It's not the taurine itself. It's the combination, and that's what I've always said.

07/15/2012 10:45 pm (17)
@ Carol

Per post #12

There is no indication that the first lab has screwed up.

Nascar allows the driver's to have their own toxicologist present during the testing of sample B. That is sufficient.

As for energy drinks... from what I have read on the combo of Taurine and caffeine... its more about the excessive consumption more than it is about the combination. Everything I have read says that it is ok in small doses, but when a person decides to chug three or four.. that is when there could be a problem.

The bottom line is the word moderation, which is a word many American's do not understand.
Mallards Motorsports
07/16/2012 2:28 pm (18)

"Regarding Red Bull, do your own research. I did research that was enough to point to Red Bull as a likely candidate for Vicker's problem (sticky blood)"

I don't understand how you can say it was the "likely" cause of Vicker's problems when nobody else has? You're the only one to figure it out? Please...

The internet is full of wannabe medical experts, alarmists, medical quacks and charlatans...more telling is the actual health effects suffered - and a search of red bull health effects turns up a few isolated cases that MIGHT be tied to it...meanwhile millions of people use the products with no ill effects.

Like I said I don't use any of those products (don't see the need) but lumping in energy drinks with the known health issues of cigarettes and cocaine isn't helping your argument...

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