Acute formoterol administration has no ergogenic effect in nonasthmatic athletes

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 Feb;34(2):213-7. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200202000-00005.


Purpose: To determine the effect of formoterol (formoterol fumarate dihydrate) on the aerobic and anaerobic capacities of highly trained athletes.

Methods: 10 male athletes (age = 26.2 +/- 0.9, VO(2max) = 65.6 +/- 2.4 mL x kg(-1) x min(-1)) with minimal bronchial reactivity to aerosols (i.e., negative methacholine challenge test) completed three identical exercise sessions differing only by the medication administered. Formoterol (F) a long-acting beta(2)-agonist, presently not approved for international competition by the I.O.C. Medical committee, was compared with salbutamol (S), an accepted bronchodilator, and a placebo (P). Formoterol (12 microg), salbutamol (400 microg), or placebo was administered by a Turbuhaler, 10 min before exercise testing in a double-blind, randomized, three-way crossover design. Testing sessions included a Wingate anaerobic test followed 15 min later by an incremental cycle ergometer test to exhaustion.

Results: There were no significant differences between the groups in VO(2max) (F = 66.5 +/- 2.7; S = 67.8 +/- 2.5; P = 67.5 +/- 2.1 mL x kg(-1) x min(-1)) or Wingate peak power (F = 885 +/- 40; S = 877 +/- 40; P = 885 +/- 44 W) values. During the maximal aerobic test, no differences were observed in maximum minute ventilation, respiratory exchange ratio, heart rate, or work between the three experimental conditions. Also, there were no differences in the Wingate anaerobic test variables, total work, or fatigue index.

Conclusion: Formoterol, administered in one aerosolized therapeutic dose, does not have an ergogenic effect in elite athletes without asthma.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bronchodilator Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Ethanolamines / pharmacology*
  • Formoterol Fumarate
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maximal Voluntary Ventilation / drug effects
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • Physical Exertion / drug effects*
  • Sports*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*


  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Ethanolamines
  • Formoterol Fumarate