Is salmeterol ergogenic?

Clin J Sport Med. 1996 Oct;6(4):220-5. doi: 10.1097/00042752-199610000-00003.


Objective: To assess the effects of 50 micrograms of inhaled salmeterol on pulmonary function, selected physical capacities, and fine motor control in 16 nonasthmatic male cyclists and triathletes, mean age of 23.2 (SD = 3.5) years.

Design: Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled crossover trial.

Setting: Human Physical Performance Laboratory, the University of Western Australia.

Subjects: Sixteen healthy male high-performance nonasthmatic athletes with a mean age of 23.2 years participated in the study.

Intervention: Subjects attended three experimental testing sessions at which salmeterol (50 micrograms), a placebo, or "no treatment" was administered in random order in a double-blind fashion, on separate occasions, prior to exercise.

Main outcome measures: During each testing, session lung function was measured before and 10 min after the treatment. Tests of reaction time and hand steadiness and then two anaerobic cycle tests followed. The first, a 10-s all-out sprint was followed, after a 3-min rest, by a 30-s all-out sprint performed on a front access bicycle ergometer. After 10 min recovery, leg flexion-extension peak torque was measured on a Biodex isokinetic dynamometer at speeds of 120 and 180 degrees s-1.

Main results: Lung function variables, reaction time, movement time, alactic anaerobic power, lactacid anaerobic power, and leg-flexion and leg-extension muscular strength were similar among the three treatment groups.

Conclusions: The preexercise administration of 50 micrograms of inhaled salmeterol has no performance-enhancing effects in nonasthmatic athletes. We believe that athletes with asthma should be permitted to use salmeterol before competition.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / administration & dosage
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Adult
  • Albuterol / administration & dosage
  • Albuterol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Albuterol / pharmacology
  • Anaerobic Threshold / drug effects
  • Anaerobic Threshold / physiology
  • Asthma, Exercise-Induced / prevention & control
  • Bicycling
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Ergometry
  • Exercise Test
  • Hand / physiology
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / physiology
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Motor Skills / drug effects
  • Muscle Contraction / drug effects
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Placebos
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Running
  • Salmeterol Xinafoate
  • Swimming


  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Placebos
  • Salmeterol Xinafoate
  • Albuterol