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Terbutaline is a prohibited drug except for athletes with a therapeutic use exemption certificate; terbutaline’s effects on endurance performance are relatively unknown. Purpose: To investigate the effects of 2 therapeutic (2 and 4 mg) inhaled doses of terbutaline on 3-km running time-trial performance. Methods: A total of 8 men (age 24.3 [2.4] y; weight 77.6 [8] kg; and height 179.5 [4.3] cm) and 8 women (age 22.4 [3] y; weight 58.6 [6] kg; and height 163 [9.2] cm) free from respiratory disease and illness provided written informed consent. Participants completed 3-km running time trials on a nonmotorized treadmill on 3 separate occasions following placebo and 2- and 4-mg inhaled terbutaline in a single-blind, repeated-measures design. Urine samples (15 min postexercise) were analyzed for terbutaline concentration. Data were analyzed using 1-way repeated-measures analysis of variance, and significance was set at P < .05 for all analyses. Results: No differences were observed for completion times (1103 [201] s, 1106 [195] s, 1098 [165] s; P = .913) for the placebo or 2- and 4-mg inhaled trials, respectively. Lactate values were higher (P = .02) after 4 mg terbutaline (10.7 [2.3] mmol·L−1) vs placebo (8.9 [1.8] mmol·L−1). Values of forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration (FEV1) were greater after inhalation of 2 mg (5.08 [0.2]; P = .01) and 4 mg terbutaline (5.07 [0.2]; P = .02) compared with placebo (4.83 [0.5] L) postinhalation. Urinary terbutaline concentrations were mean 306 (288) ng·mL−1 and 435 (410) ng·mL−1 (P = .2) and peak 956 ng·mL−1 and 1244 ng·mL−1 after 2 and 4 mg inhaled terbutaline, respectively. No differences were observed between the male and female participants. Conclusions: Therapeutic dosing of terbutaline does not lead to an improvement in 3-km running performance despite significantly increased FEV1. The findings suggest that athletes using inhaled terbutaline at high therapeutic doses to treat asthma will not gain an ergogenic advantage during 3-km running performance.

Molphy is with the Aspetar Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar. Molphy and Dickinson are with the Endurance Research Group, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Kent, Canterbury, United Kingdom. Molphy, Chester, and Whyte are with the Research Inst for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom. Loosemore is with the Inst of Sport Exercise and Health, University College London, London, United Kingdom.

Molphy (john.molphy@aspetar.com) is corresponding author.
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