Nicotine has a lot of benefits. It gives individuals an ability to escape a crowded bar. It gives companies an ability to addict customers to its product. And, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency, it gives athletes the ability to perform better in their respective sports.
According to this report, WADA is considering a suggestion that it add nicotine to its list of banned performance-enhancing substances.
Such a ban would not affect Major League Baseball, but it does make you think a little bit about the slippery slope you begin to slide down when you become morally indignant about players who used or are alleged to have used PEDs. A lot of people scoffed when J.C. Romero compared his positive drug test, which he blamed on a tainted supplement, to other players using nicotine. But while the logic did not exactly line up, there was some truth to what he was saying. Nicotine is a drug. It just happens to be a drug that is approved for sale by our government, just like LSD and cocaine derivatives were at one point in time.
Nobody will argue that nicotine enhances performance to the point that anabolic steroids could. But according to the report submitted to WADA, and anecdotally confirmed by any cigarette smoker or chewer you ask, nicotine improves mental clarity, decreases stress, increases heart rate, and decreases appetite.