The use of asthma medication by professional cyclists is a controversial one, thrust into the limelight again as Chris Froome was found to have higher-than-permitted levels of salbutamol in a sample taken during the 2017 Vuelta a España.
David Bradford hunts for the truth about the prevalence, effects and treatment of asthma among cyclists With the news that Chris Froome returned an adverse analytical finding for salbutamol at the 2017 Vuelta a España, the spotlight has once again fallen on the use of asthma medication in professional cycling.
He has tested Olympians and elite athletes from almost every sport, including GB cyclists and members of Team Sky.
His slightly less illustrious job today is to check the airways of ’s art editor Dan Baines and photographer Dan Gould, while helping us understand why asthma has become such a hot topic in cycling.
We also paid a visit to Dr John Dickinson, the UK’s foremost expert on asthma in sport, to find out if breathing problems really do affect as many cyclists as pro-related stats seem to imply, and if so, whether us normal riders should be getting tested too.
“Yes,” says Dickinson, “when we work with squads of elite athletes, we test everybody — it clears up any doubt.” He explains that not all GPs are sufficiently equipped (or informed) to accurately assess asthma-related conditions such as exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB), and sometimes prescribe medication without adequate investigation of the symptoms.
And, to back up those words with actions, step forward, Cycling Weekly’s two Dans…
art editor Dan Baines has no previous history of asthma but sometimes suffers from pollen allergies.
Why do so many riders appear to require medication to help them breathe, and are they really gaining an advantage?
In March, spoke to another Olympic medallist cyclist whose asthma-related TUEs were leaked: sprinter Callum Skinner.