Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Pubdate: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 
Author: James Woodford, Defencve Correspondent


Australian troops have been officially cleared to use
performance-enhancing chemicals, including drugs, and methods banned
by international sports authorities, to improve their physical and
mental strength.

Guidelines on the use of the substances and techniques have been
issued to the commanders of Australia's special forces units - the
Special Air Service Regiment, 1 Commando Regiment and 4th Battalion
Royal Australian Regiment.

The senior nutritionist at the Defence Science and Technology
Organisation, Mr Chris Forbes-Ewan, said that unlike in sport "all's
fair in love and war".

"What we are trying to gain is an advantage over any potential
adversary," Mr Forbes-Ewan said. "What we will have is a

Commanders and doctors have now been given advice on the use, dosage,
benefits and side-effects of performance enhancers including:

Blood loading, illegal for Olympic athletes. The technique involves
taking between up to a litre of blood from a soldier and putting it in
deep freeze. Over a period of days the soldier will make up for the
loss of blood and then, before the battle or exercise, when endurance
is required, the blood is infused back into the veins. Instead of
having the usual four or five litres of blood the soldier has five or

Creatine powder, a naturally occurring substance in the muscles which
stores high-energy phosphate.

Caffeine, which in doses equivalent to six or seven cups of strong
instant coffee leads to significant improvements in endurance.

Oral rehydration drinks containing electrolytes and

Ephedrine, banned in sport but which, in combination with caffeine,
seems to give a bigger boost that either ephedrine or caffeine.

Modafinil, invented as a medical aid for people who have sleep
problems but also helps people such as soldiers keep going on
all-night missions . The decision to issue the guidelines follows
surveys of special forces troops, revealing that more than 50 per cent
of soldiers are using, without authorisation or supervision, energy
boosters and performance aids, which scientists call "ergogenic aids".

Most of the aids used by soldiers were simple and harmless substances
that were available legally. No evidence of steroid use was uncovered.

Scientists have ruled out about 50 other performance-enhancing
substances, including steroids.

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Checked-by: Rich O'Grady