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Menthol as an ergogenic aid for the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games: an expert led consensus statement using the modified Delphi method

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Owen JeffriesORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Introduction. Menthol topical application and mouth rinsing are ergogenic in hot environments, improving performance and perception, with differing effects on body temperature regulation. Consequently, athletes and federations are beginning to explore the possible benefits to elite sport performance for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, which will take place in hot (~31°C), humid (70% RH) conditions. There is no clear consensus on safe and effective menthol use for athletes, practitioners or researchers. The present study addressed this shortfall by producing expert-led consensus recommendations. Method. Fourteen contributors were recruited following ethical approval. A three-step modified Delphi method was used for voting on 96 statements generated following literature consultation; 192 statements total (96/96 topical application/mouth rinsing). Round 1 contributors voted to “agree” or “disagree” with statements; 80% agreement was required to accept statements. In round 2, contributors voted to “support” or “change” their round 1 unaccepted statements, with knowledge of the extant voting from round 1. Round 3 contributors met to discuss voting against key remaining statements. Results. Forty-seven statements reached consensus in round 1 (30/17 topical application/rinsing); fourteen proved redundant. Six statements reached consensus in round 2 (2/4 topical application/rinsing); one hundred and sixteen statements proved redundant. Nine further statements were agreed in round 3 (6/3 topical application/rinsing) with caveats. Discussion. Consensus was reached on 62 statements in total (38/24 topical application/rinsing), enabling the development of guidance on safe menthol administration, with a view to enhancing performance and perception in the heat without impairing body temperature regulation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Barwood MJ, Gibson OR, Gillis DJ, Jeffries O, Morris NB, Pearce J, Ross ML, Stevens C, Rinaldi K, Kounalakis SN, Riera F, Mündel T, Waldron M, Best R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Sports Medicine

Year: 2020

Volume: 50

Pages: 1709-1727

Print publication date: 01/10/2020

Online publication date: 04/07/2020

Acceptance date: 15/05/2020

Date deposited: 08/06/2020

ISSN (print): 0112-1642

ISSN (electronic): 1179-2035

Publisher: Springer Nature


DOI: 10.1007/s40279-020-01313-9


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