Are Antihistamines Performance Enhancing Drugs?

Are antihistamines performance enhancing drugs? 

The short answer: maybe. The long answer: it’s not clear. Here’s more information about why antihistamine ingestion qualifies as doping in sports and what this means for the everyday athlete, whether competing or just running with hayfever and seasonal allergies.

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Athletes Banned for Using Antihistamines

Before 2014, few professional athletes realized that they could be accused of doping for taking allergy medication. Then, hockey player Nicklas Backstrom failed the Sochi Olympics final drug test for having a prescription antihistamine in his system. The native Swede has suffered from seasonal allergies for years since moving to Washington D.C. to play for the Washington Capitals. His story pulled on the heartstrings of other allergy sufferers. It also called doctors’ knowledge of banned substances into question(1).

Unfortunately, Nicklas isn’t the only athlete whose doctors unintentionally prescribed him a banned asthma medication. According to an article in Reuters, four out of 5 doctors prescribed one of the prohibited forms of corticosteroids. Many doctors knew athletes could not orally ingest the medications, but they did not realize that ointments,…

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