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Freediving and Asthma

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Feb 12, 2002
Hi guys,

A couple of days ago I was diagnosed to have exercise-induced asthma. It actually means that during sport activities such as running, cycling etc., I have asthmatic symptoms (difficulty in breathing, coughing, etc) and after a while I cannot continue the training at all. As a treatment, before training I have to use Ventoline spray that contains of salbutamol, a substance that tightens and releases the cramp of bronchi.

I freedive both for passion and competing but I have never had those symptoms while training (either in pool or in lakes/ sea). By international standards Ventoline is not on doping list, however, if used, it has to be announced before competing.

Somehow I feel that this is something like a taboo in freediving. For those healthy who use it for doping purposes can perform better due to improved capacity for oxygen intake. But how do you think those who need it because of asthma for instance are considered in freediving circles?

What I feel about it is that if I do not use this medicine I have certain disadvantage compared to those who are healthy, whereas, if I use it I have the chance to start from the same level as the others.

Or is it just my ideology to explain the unexplainable?

I really would appreciate if anyone could share his/ her experience or opinion with me.

The best,

  • Like
Reactions: donmoore
Use the medicine. If you have it prescribed for you legitimately you will be able to use it in competitions if you have warned the official doctor in advance. Anyway you have been prescribed it for a reason so don't be afraid to use it.

A friend of mine has around 5 different asthma inhalers and still has a medical to say he is fit to freedive (although he has not always been signed off for scuba). In fact he finds the breathing techniques he has learned for freediving have helped the asthma to the extent that he does not always need the medication. But on days when we dive together and he hasn't taken it - I can usually tell....

Check with a dive doc that what you have been prescribed is ok to dive with then if so go with it and use the inhaler - just make sure no one steals it to see if it helps their performance!

hey there jules,
interesting subject. i think it's a fine line. here's a quick analogy: Bob is an avid track and field sprinter who unfortunately does not have the genetic makeup to become an excellent sprinter. the only way Bob can achieve the performance level he so desires is to take steroids. so after taking steroids, Bob is at the level he wanted. this is the dilema: some see it as no problem for Bob to take steroids to reach his goals for personal reasons, but put Bob in a competitive arena and most will agree he has no place there. while ventoline and steroids are on opposite ends of the spectrum, my point is Bob unfortunately needs a performance enhancer to compete at a higher level. many competitive athletes will find it unfair for a fellow athlete to be allowed use of a performance enhancing medicine reguardless of reason and legalities.

now the flipside: simply put, steroids are banned from competitions. ventoline is not as long as the athlete gives prior notice. don't you think plenty of thought and research supports this international decision? so why not let an athlete using ventoline participate in competition? afterall, isn't following the rules what it's all about?

my personal opinion: for recreation and health i see no problem with the use of ventoline. in a competition, i personally would find it hard to give full credit to a fellow athlete, knowing that they use a medicine that enhances performance. even though it is legal if "prescribed". We all know how hard it is to get a "prescription" of something such as ventoline. thus leading to abuse of such a product by athletes trying to get every edge possible. (hmmm......any rulemakers out there listening?) In a proffesional arena, rules must be black and white. the drug is either allowed or not. no in between.

Overall, life can be a bitch. it sucks to see someone put in half the effort as i do , yet get better results. but what can we do except try even harder and strive to become the best we can be. No shortcut will ever give me the feeling of accomplishment as hard work does.

Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: ash
Hey to all! I'm new to freediving and this forum, but this was a subject that I had to say something about (btw. sorry about my english!).

I've had asthma for 16-20 years and still compited in all kinds of sports: hockey, soccer, tennis, cross-country skiing to name a few.

As Jules pointed out that a person with asthma isn't able to train like a healty person without medication. The thing is that when a person with asthma trains hard, his bronchus starts to get narrower and narrower until he can't breath any more. This kind of a thing doesn't happen to a normal healthy person. The only thing that these inhalators do for a person with asthma is help the bronchus to stay open. So these drugs aren't "performance enhancer" for asthmatics they only help us to compite on equal level with healthy people.

Misuse does and will hapen and the only thing we can do is try to prevent it...

All the best,

Last edited:
asthma meds

Interesting thread...
The key question is: Does the asthma drug provide a performance enhancing benefit to a person who doesn't have asthma?
If yes, then I believe it would argue against allowing this drug in competition. If no, as say, insulin to a diabetic, then I believe it appropriate to allow the presribed drug in competition.
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