This study aimed to clarify the controversial effects of acute and short-term salbutamol (SAL) intake on sprint performance in healthy athletes. Based on the results of previous studies, an anabolic effect for the short-term treatment and increased glycolysis in both treatments were hypothesized. Eight male recreational athletes completed force-velocity exercise tests after administration of placebo (gelatin), acute oral SAL (6 mg) or short-term oral SAL (12 mg day(-1) for 3 weeks), using a double-blind and randomized protocol. A friction-loaded cycle ergometer fitted with a strain gauge, and an incremental encoder ensured accurate measurement of the force-velocity relationship during sprints. Mechanical data were averaged during each pedal downstroke. Compared with placebo after both acute and 3 weeks of continuous treatment, the force-velocity relationship shifted to the right with power output gains of 14 and 8% (p < 0.001), respectively. This effect was less marked for 3 weeks of continuous treatment compared with acute administration (p < 0.001), suggesting a down-regulation in adrenoceptors. Our first hypothesis thus seems rejected. Significantly higher end-of-exercise and recovery blood lactate concentrations were found under SAL compared with placebo (p < 0.001), supporting our second hypothesis. In conclusion, these data indicate that oral administration of SAL is an effective ergogenic aid for sprint exercise in non-asthmatic athletes. Moreover, an acute treatment seems to be more effective than 3 weeks of continuous treatment.