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2.2 Are some asthma drugs banned in athletic competitions?




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This article is from the Asthma FAQ, by Patricia Wrean and Marie Goldenberg mwg@radix.net with numerous contributions by others.

2.2 Are some asthma drugs banned in athletic competitions?


The determination of whether a drug or substance is banned or
allowed in amateur athletic competitions is not based on whether
it is medically necessary. Rather, such a determination is based
on whether the substance in question can be performance-enhancing
and offer an unfair competitive advantage. There are several
organizations that make this determination and an athlete on an
asthmatic drug should check with his coaches, physician, and
appropriate athletic authority. Different athletic organizations
may differ on what is banned or allowed. For example, the
United States Olympic Committee (USOC) follows International
Olympic Committee guidelines for testing at Olympic events. Many
amateur athletic organizations (termed National Governing Bodies)
adopt USOC guidelines for drug testing at their events. In
contrast, the NCAA has less stringent guidelines for certain
substances used by asthmatics in during competitions. Further
complicating an athlete's understanding of the situation, some
substances that are banned in tablet form are allowed in inhaled
form.

As an example, the USOC allows inhaled forms of the beta-2 agonist
albuterol with written notification by a treating physician but
bans tablet forms of albuterol. Certain other beta-adrenergic
agonists (e.g. ephedrine, bitolterol, metaproterenol) are banned
by the USOC. An athlete who participates in an amateur athletic
event where drug testing may occur should check with his or her
coaches and physicians regarding the allowed vs. banned status of
any substance while competing. The United States Olympic
Committee Drug Hotline, (800) 233-0393, or NCAA, (800) 546-0441,
may provide information to specific questions on drugs, and
educational materials in this regard. An asthmatic should also
not assume that an over-the-counter (OTC) status of any drug
implies its allowed status in athletic competitions; many OTC
agents (e.g. combination decongestant-bronchodilators containing
ephedrine) or herbal preparations bought in food stores
(e.g. Ma Huang) contain stimulants useful for asthma but banned
in certain athletic competition settings.

Contributed by: Lyn Frumkin, M.D., Ph.D. lrfrum@u.washington.edu


 

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