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Effects of inhaled salbutamol in exercising non-asthmatic athletes


BACKGROUND Beta-2 agonists such as salbutamol are used, not only by asthmatic athletes to prevent exercise induced asthma, but also by non-asthmatic athletes as a potentially ergogenic agent. We have investigated whether inhaled salbutamol enhances endurance performance in non-asthmatic athletes.

METHODS A prospective double blind, randomised, three way crossover design was used to study the effects of 200 μg and 800 μg inhaled salbutamol versus a placebo in 12 trained triathletes. The treatments were compared in three identical cycle ergometer sessions at 85% of the predetermined maximal oxygen uptake. Lung function, endurance time, metabolic parameters (glucose, potassium, lactate, free fatty acid, and glycerol), and psychomotor performance were evaluated.

RESULTS Neither endurance time nor post-exercise bronchodilation were significantly different between the treatments. Metabolic parameters were affected by exercise but not by treatment.

CONCLUSIONS Inhaled salbutamol, even in a high dose, did not have a significant effect on endurance performance in non-asthmatic athletes, although the bronchodilating effect of the drug at the beginning of exercise may have improved respiratory adaptation. Our results do not preclude an ergogenic effect of β2 agonists given by other routes or for a longer period.

  • asthma
  • athletes
  • exercise
  • inhaled salbutamol
  • performance enhancers
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  • This paper was presented in part at the annual meeting of the European Respiratory Society in Geneva, 19–23 September 1998.

  • This study was supported by a grant from “Agence du Médicament”.

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