Clenbuterol: a substitute for anabolic steroids?

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1995 Aug;27(8):1118-21.


Clenbuterol is a recently popular drug used by athletes in many sports for its purported anabolic effects and reduction of subcutaneous fat. It is a beta-2 (beta 2) agonist prescribed overseas as a bronchodilator, but not approved for use in this country. It is on the banned substance list of the United States Olympic Committee. To avoid any erosion of confidence, physicians caring for athletes need accurate information regarding clenbuterol. Such information is unavailable within the routine medical environs. A review of the literature of animal husbandry reveals that this drug, when administered in doses far greater than those required for bronchodilation, does indeed increase the deposition rate of lean mass and retard adipose gain. There are no human studies available. Animal studies were conducted on laboratory and slaughter stock. No investigation into long-term cardiovascular side effects has been undertaken. The rate of extrapolation from animal studies to unsupervised human usage is alarming. If this category of drugs does preserve lean mass in humans, there are legitimate medical applications. Trials of efficacy and safety are needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Anabolic Agents / pharmacology
  • Anabolic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use
  • Clenbuterol / pharmacology
  • Clenbuterol / therapeutic use*
  • Drug and Narcotic Control
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Lipolysis / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Sports
  • United States


  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Anabolic Agents
  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Clenbuterol