Can Asthma Inhalers Enhance Athletic Performance?

My latest story for Wired Playbook highlights new research that investigates whether the common asthma medication, salbutamol/albuterol, could enhance athletic performance when taken in extremely large doses.

A research team led by Jimmi Elers at the Respiratory Research Unit at Bispebjerg Hospital in Copenhagen was curious: Although taking a few puffs of salbutamol hasn’t shown a performance boost in past studies, what would a dose that’s, say, 40 times higher than normal do to lung function? And with higher amounts of the drug running through their bodies, would the over-the-top dose cause athletes to hit the upper limit enforced by the new WADA standards when they’re forced to undergo a urine-screening test before competition?

Image via Flickr / Neil T

Elers, J., Mørkeberg, J., Jansen, T., Belhage, B., & Backer, V. (2010). High-dose inhaled salbutamol has no acute effects on aerobic capacity or oxygen uptake kinetics in healthy trained men Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01251.x