Home / World According to Don / Drugs and Asthma

To start, this is not about defending the use of performance enhancing drugs.  I don’t normally use drugs. I barely drink alcohol, I use aspirin two or three times a year, and even though I have very bad allergies (hay fever), I haven’t used antihistamines for nearly 40 years.

I do have a story though. It starts with the many stories of athletes who take medication for asthma. I know many of you are skeptical. Why does it seem so many athletes have asthma? I don’t know but I do know asthma is on the rise. There is speculation as to why–the pollutants, the food we eat etc.

My story is that I have late-onset asthma. It started for me about 5 years ago. I was in France with friends and I had just gotten over a cold, however the cough stayed. Muffy kept asking me about my cold. I told her my cold was gone, but the cough was lingering. It just stayed with me.

About this time I went to my doctor for him to check on a high-PSA blood test I had.  I had prostrate cancer, and asthma.   I would have never guessed at the time that the cancer had the easy solution, and it would be the asthma that was the difficult problem.

At first the asthma was easy to deal with–a good warm up, take a little medication, and I felt normal. However it started to change for the worse. It got to the point that I never knew before a ride or ski how I would feel. My doctor gave me stronger drugs, but I was very hit or miss. Some days any little up-hill would stop me. Riding from work could be a chore. My doctor suggested I see a specialist in asthma and allergies.

The photo above is what he has suggested, to hit it very hard and very fast. Some of these drugs would not be allowed if I was an active racer. Chris Horner tried to get a TUE for one of these medications but was unable to. One of these drugs caused Alejandro Pettachi to be suspended for a year. The point is athletes aren’t allowed the same resources as non athletes to get healthy.

I don’t really have an answer for this. I guess I would suggest that when you read about all these athletes with asthma, don’t condemn them. Asthma sucks, it comes on unexpectedly, and it is unpredictable. I’m hoping these new drugs will help me. After three days I’m feeling like my old self. I skied for two hours today and was never out of breath. It’s the best I’ve felt in over a year.

I feel for the many athletes with asthma. I can recognize them when they finish. I’ve seen Katie Compton trying to breath when her asthma is acting up, I’ve seen Martin Jonsrud Sundby have a minor asthma attack almost every time he finishes a race. There is no proof that I can find that any of the medications I take are PEDS. But they could be. So most of them are unavailable to active athletes.

This past fall Therese Johaug received at least a 14 month suspension for taking a lip balm for her sunburned lips. The Norwegian Team doctor gave it to her. Years ago Jonathan Vaughters had to drop out of a race because he was stung by a bee and wasn’t allowed to take the medication a non-athlete would’ve  been given.

My story makes me understand better what it takes to feel good again. I’m not suggesting a change,I’m only suggesting that you not condemn all these athletes with asthma. Asthma a a growing worldwide problem and it’s no fun.

This is my first blog since the election. I’m sorry about that but my mind had been elsewhere. Thanks for reading.

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