Medical doses of salmeterol and formoterol allow athletes to sprint faster
If healthy athletes who do not need asthma medications inhale formoterol or salmeterol for 5 weeks for long-acting beta-2 agonists, their sprint performances improve. British sports scientists, affiliated with the University of Kent, will soon report this in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. The doses in which formoterol and salmeterol improve sprint times are permitted in sport.
The researchers got 38 athletes to do strength and spriny training 3 times a week for 5 weeks. Each strength training consisted of a full body workout with exercises such as the lunge, squat, leg press, leg curl, chest and shoulder press, shoulder dumbbell raise and exercises for biceps and triceps. Then, the test subjects sprinted 5 times a distance of 5-10 meters.
The researchers divided the subjects into 3 groups. A placebo group inhaled water twice a day, two experimental groups inhaled formoterol and salmeterol. These are both long-acting beta-2-agonists. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) allows athletes with asthma to use 54 micrograms of formoterol or 200 micrograms of salmeterol daily.
The administration of salmeterol or formoterol had no effect on the strength of the test subjects, as shown below. The substances didn't have any effect on body composition either.
However, the beta-2 agonists did have a positive effect on the time in which the test subjects could sprint a distance of 30 meters.
"This study was the first to demonstrate five weeks of therapeutic doses or either inhaled salmeterol or formoterol in combination with strength, power and sprint training may improve 30 m sprint performance," the researchers write.
"At this stage we are unable to conclude that similar effects will occur in highly trained athletes using similar doses. Therefore anti-doping stakeholders may wish to commission investigations into whether highly trained athletes experience a similar ergogenic action from inhaled formoterol or salmeterol."
"These studies should be conducted before changes to the WADA Prohibited List are recommended. However, our findings suggest that consideration should be given to closer monitoring or inhaled long acting beta-2 agonists use by athletes in and out of competition."
"Future research is required to investigate the mechanism behind the potential improvement in sprint performance in both males and females."
Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2019 Apr 8:1-22. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2018-0921. [Epub ahead of print].
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