n South African Journal of Sports Medicine - Effect of a therapeutic dose of pseudoephedrine on swimmers' performance : original research




The potential performance-enhancement effect of pseudoephedrine (PSE) use has led to its prohibition in competition sports (urine concentrations >150 µg/ml). Data are, however, scarce regarding whether therapeutic PSE use enhances swimming performance.

To investigate the effect of therapeutic PSE use on performance in aerobic and explosive sprint swimming events.
A double-blinded cross-over study design was used. Participants in the control group initially received a placebo and those in the experimental group received a divided PSE dose of 90 mg/d. Anaerobic power (50 m sprint) and aerobic (2 000 m) swimming testing was conducted at () baseline; () after ingestion of a placebo or PSE; and () after the groups were crossed over, following a wash-out period of 4 days, to determine changes in performance between trials.
The participants (mean age 44 years; =7) were competitive masters swimmers with normal resting heart rates (68 beats per minute (bpm); standard deviation (SD) ±14) and blood pressures (BPs) (171 (SD ±27)/83 (SD ±16) mmHg). The use of PSE during the anaerobic swim test showed only a trivial chance (68%) of improvement, with a likely enhancement in systolic BP (86%). The aerobic swim test did not affirm performance enhancement as measured by time to completion (52% chance of a positive effect; 41% chance of a negative effect), nor did any other physiological variable of interest (peak heart rate and exercising BP) differ significantly from baseline results.
The use of a therapeutic amount of PSE in short and endurance swimming trials did not appear to have any major ergogenic effect on performance.


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