If anyone's interested in reading the papers under discussion they can be found in the features section here
under the heading "The Truth About Sports Drinks". The full text of these papers is behind a pay-wall but I found some of them posted online.
Anyway, my personal view is that sports drinks are safe and effective when used appropriately. So the problem isn't sports drinks per se, it's the exaggerated claims used in marketing them to the general public that's created the problem, leading many to believe they need them to perform at their best. The truth it's unlikely you'll benefit from using sports drinks unless you're a serious endurance athlete or have difficulty in consuming adequate CHO from food alone. And there is little if any benefit in prehydrating or "drinking ahead of your thirst" if you aren't a serious endurance athlete, and even then it's debatable whether the practice is of any real benefit.
The Truth About Sports Drinks.
Cohen D., BMJ 2012;345:e4737
Forty years of sports performance research and little insight gained.
Carl Heneghan et al. BMJ 2012;345:e4797
To drink or not to drink to drink recommendations: the evidence.
Yannis Pitsiladis, Lukas Beis. BMJ 2012;345:e4868
Commentary: role of hydration in health and exercise.
TD Noakes. BMJ 2012;344:e4171
*All links wfs*