Thursday, April 14, 2011

How many Frappuccinos does it take to fail an NCAA drug test?

As all NCAA athletes are warned, caffeine IS on the NCAA list of controlled substances. That is to say, it’s not banned outright, but acceptable maximum levels are set to control for possible performance enhancing effects.

I couldn’t find acceptable testing levels directly from the NCAA, (should it be this difficult to find?) but WebMD, among other sites, seem to agree that the NCAA maximum acceptable level is 15 mcg/mL (micrograms per milliliter) in urine. All I could find from the NCAA’s drug testing program website are a list of banned drug-classes, not specific testing levels.

Ok, so we know 15 mcg/mL is the upper limit for caffeine levels in urine. Now how much caffeine can you drink before you reach that level, and what does that mean in terms of Starbucks Mocha Frappuccinos? WebMD says coffee has around 100 mg/cup, and that it would take someone around 8 cups to reach the limit. So according to WebMD, 800mg at once is the limit. I’m guessing that means within an hour or so – since it takes around 45 minutes for caffeine to be absorbed into the bloodstream – but WebMD doesn’t really specify. Therefore, according to Starbucks beverage nutrition information, it would take 4.85 Venti Mocha Frappuccinos within an hour to fail an NCAA drug test. By the way, all those Venti Fraps adds up to 2,424 Calories and 82 grams of fat.

The Richard Stockton College Athletic Training website provides some more specific information. According to their site, 500 mg of caffeine in one hour is enough to fail the drug test. That’s only 3.03 Venti Mocha Frappuccinos! I have 3.03 Venti Mocha Frappuccinos for breakfast!

But wait, according to their own calculations, the Stockton College site says that 100 mg of caffeine equates to 1.5 mcg/mL in urine, and 200mg of caffeine equates to 3.0 mcg/mL, etc. Following this trend, you would be allowed 1000 mg of caffeine before reaching the 15 mcg/mL level. If this is correct, you could drink 6.06 Venti Mocha Frappuccinos (3,030 Calories, 103 grams of fat) in an hour before failing your drug test.

caffeine NCAA drug test

Play it safe
Based on numbers found on the web, you could probably drink somewhere between 3 to 10 Venti Mocha Frappuccinos in an hour and still pass an NCAA drug test. You might consider just having one Venti Mocha Frappuccino – I mean, come on, it’s a Venti.

A note about half-life
Caffeine is metabolized in the liver. The half-life of caffeine – the time required for the body to eliminate one-half of the total amount of caffeine – varies between individuals. According to Wikipedia, the half-life time depends on age, liver function, and other medications taken. The estimated half-life for healthy adults is 4.9 hours, and up to 10 hours for women taking oral contraceptives. That means you can have 6 to 20 Venti Mocha Frappuccinos as long as you take a break 10 hours before your test. 20 Venti Mocha Frappuccinos would contain 10,000 Calories and 340 grams of fat.

This article is a cross-post from Kast-A-Way Blog