What's the deal with asthma and pro cycling?

Why do so many top-level cyclists suffer from asthma – and are the drugs that they're taking enhancing their performance?

Simon Yates at the 2015 Dauphine Libere; In April Yates tested positive for asthma medication (Watson)

(Image credit: Watson)

When it emerged in April that British pro Simon Yates had failed an in-competition test for the prohibited medication terbutaline, questions were asked about what the substance is and what effect it can have on riders and their performance.

According to his team, Yates is permitted to take the asthma medication under a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE), but an administrative error by a team doctor meant that this didn't apply on the day he was tested at Paris-Nice.

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Jack Elton-Walters hails from the Isle of Wight, and would be quick to tell anyone that it's his favourite place to ride. He has covered a varied range of topics for Cycling Weekly, producing articles focusing on tech, professional racing and cycling culture. He moved on to work for Cyclist Magazine in 2017 where he stayed for four years until going freelance. He now returns to Cycling Weekly from time-to-time to cover racing, review cycling gear and write longer features for print and online.