Objectives: To provide an overview of the current literature on the use of inhaled β2 agonists in non-asthmatic competitive athletes, and to assess the performance enhancing effect of inhaled β2 agonists.
Methods: Review of the literature.
Results: Twenty randomised, placebo controlled studies (19 double blind, one single blind) were located. Only three studies reported a performance enhancing effect of inhaled β2 agonists. However, methodological shortcomings were most likely responsible for these findings (for example, non-elite athletes, inconsistent results in different tests, subgroups with above-average responsiveness).
Conclusions: This review reveals that there is no ergogenic potential of inhaled β2 agonists in non-asthmatic athletes. In view of the epidemiology of asthma in athletes and the considerable workload involved in provision of therapeutic use exemptions the inclusion of inhaled β2 agonists on the list of prohibited substances should be reconsidered.
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Competing interests: none declared
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