Cocaine trace due to drinking Red Bull Cola, Abu Dhabi court hears

Man tells court cocaine was found in his system because he drank cola during a trip to Scotland.

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ABU DHABI // A man found with cocaine in his system might have ingested the drug unwittingly by drinking Red Bull Cola during a trip to Scotland, a forensics expert told the criminal court yesterday.

The court cleared the man of the drug charge, but sentenced him to one month in prison for reckless driving and 80 lashes for drinking alcohol. The man was tried under Sharia as he admitted the alcohol charge in court.

The Emirati OM was arrested while driving on the wrong side of the road following his return from holiday. He admitted drinking alcohol, saying he was distressed over the death of his father, but said he had merely been confused about which side of the road to drive on.

However, when tests showed traces of cocaine in his system, he denied taking the drug, saying he had no idea of where it came from.

A forensics expert told the court that the Red Bull Cola sold in Europe contains tiny traces of the drug that can show up in a person's blood sample for up to 10 days after ingestion. The Red Bull Cola sold in the UAE does not contain this trace.

The expert said that it would be hard for a consumer to detect the taste of the drug in the drink.

OM's co-defendant, an Egyptian woman accused only of drinking alcohol, was cleared.

In 2009, when six German states pulled Red Bull Cola from shelves after trace amounts of cocaine were found, the company said that the processed coca leaves used in the soda did not contain cocaine.