Letters The truth about sports drinks

No conspiracy exists

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e5433 (Published 14 August 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5433
  1. Mark Hargreaves, professor1
  1. 1Department of Physiology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  1. m.hargreaves{at}unimelb.edu.au

Cohen’s article implies that I used my association with commercial interests to influence editorial duties for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and Journal of Applied Physiology.1 I reject such an assertion. If Cohen had contacted me I would have provided the following information for her article:

  • • I have been professor of physiology at the University of Melbourne since 2005 and was previously professor of exercise physiology at Deakin University (1996-2004).

  • • I served on the science advisory board of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) from 1996 to 2008, for which I received a modest annual honorarium and expenses paid trips to the annual board meeting, held in conjunction with a scientific conference (yes, some locations were exotic, others less so). These conferences often covered, but were not limited to, issues of fluid, carbohydrate, and electrolyte replacement during exercise.

  • • Between 1995 and 2005 I received $A80 500 (£54 434; €69 150; $85 064) of unrestricted grant support from GSSI to undertake four separate research projects on carbohydrate metabolism during exercise, with a focus on mechanisms rather than performance. All of these research projects were approved by the relevant institutional ethics committees.

  • • I was not responsible for the final content of the 2007 ACSM position stand on fluid replacement but did review aspects of the draft manuscript, specifically the section related to carbohydrate supplementation during exercise. My financial links to GSSI were declared and ACSM has clear policies for managing such conflicts.

  • • I was on the editorial board of the Journal of Applied Physiology from 2000 to 2005 and am currently a consulting editor (since 2005). In that role, I have overseen three highlighted topics on fatigue during exercise, muscle plasticity, and exercise and metabolic syndrome. I have never had responsibility for the final acceptance or rejection of any manuscript (the associate editors and ultimately the editor have that role) and to the best of my knowledge the main criterion for acceptance is scientific merit and quality. I do review specific manuscripts, and in the period 2009-12 (for which records are available) I reviewed 16 manuscripts—only one was on a topic broadly relevant to sports drinks. I have neither the desire, nor the opportunity, to accept or reject research papers on sports drinks that have been submitted to journal.

It was unfortunate that a series of related facts (generally accurate) were connected to propose an elaborate conspiracy. The reality is not so sensational.


Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5433


  • Competing interests: None declared.


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