Effect of a therapeutic dose of pseudoephedrine on swimmers’ performance

  • PJ-L Gradidge
  • D Constantinou
  • S-M Heard
  • C King
  • H Morris-Eyton


Background. 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.
Objective. To investigate the effect of therapeutic PSE use on performance in aerobic and explosive sprint swimming events.
Method. 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 (i) baseline; (ii) after ingestion of a placebo or PSE; and (iii)  after the groups were crossed over, following a wash-out period of 4 days, to determine changes in performance between trials.
Results. The participants (mean age 44 years; N=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.
Conclusion. 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.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2078-516X
print ISSN: 1015-5163