Modafinil Shakes up the Sports World

By now the world is well aware of the medical benefits of modafinil and its potential to treat dozens of conditions. What many don’t know is that modafinil also has a sketchy history in competition. Sports are competitive. Doping to get an advantage is nothing new. Just look at the Russian Olympics teams, Lance Armstrong, or the steroid-riddled baseball players of the 90s.

Modafinil’s been the topic of some sports controversy too. Its benefits go beyond the bookshelf and into the big game in many ways.

Modafinil improves sports performance

Sports of all kinds depend on practice. Without training you won’t get very far at all. Enter modafinil. By sharpening your focus and improving your ability to pay attention and stick to a single task, it makes practice less tedious. In addition, it’s been proven to reduce fatigue. You can work out longer and practice harder.

So far the jury’s out as to whether that increases your risk for injury, although almost every sports trainer will tell you that working out too hard, too fast, can be dangerous. Extra focus is fine, extra lifting can hurt you.

On the field activity can get better with modafinil too. It’s easier to concentrate on the goal and ignore distractions. Runners and cyclists especially have been caught taking modafinil.

Physical Sports, Mental Sports, and e-Sports

Athletes have been burned for using modafinil before. And e-sports competitions for video games are starting to consider banning it as well, as many players are using modafinil to play for longer hours and improve their performance. The World Anti-Doping Agency explicitly lists modafinil as a banned substance. Most professional organizations refer to the WADA’s lists.

But now it seems that even the mental sports are getting in on the action. Now it’s chess. A group of subjects on modafinil was tested while playing chess and the results were very interesting. On one hand, they made better moves and were more thoughtful, but they often ran out of time! In a timed game, you can’t sit and stare at the board for several minutes, as the modafinil group was wont to do.

If you’re a casual sports player or someone who just wants a little extra energy for their daily run, modafinil can certainly help you out. However, anyone in the competitive arena should be careful: Taking modafinil could lead to multi-year bans.