Clenbuterol ball-and-stick model.png
Clenbuterol (top),
and (R)-(−)-clenbuterol (bottom)
Clinical data
Trade namesDilaterol, Spiropent, Ventipulmin, others[1]
AHFS/Drugs.comInternational Drug Names
  • C
Routes of
Oral (tablets, oral solution)
ATC code
Legal status
Legal status
  • AU: S4 (Prescription only)
  • UK: POM (Prescription only)
  • US: ℞-only
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability89–98% (orally)
MetabolismHepatic (negligible)
Elimination half-life36–48 hours
ExcretionFeces and urine
  • (RS)-1-(4-Amino-3,5-dichlorophenyl)-2-(tert-butylamino)ethan-1-ol
CAS Number
PubChem CID
CompTox Dashboard (EPA)
ECHA InfoCard100.048.499 Edit this at Wikidata
Chemical and physical data
Molar mass277.19 g·mol−1
3D model (JSmol)
ChiralityRacemic mixture
  • Clc1cc(cc(Cl)c1N)C(O)CNC(C)(C)C
  • InChI=1S/C12H18Cl2N2O/c1-12(2,3)16-6-10(17)7-4-8(13)11(15)9(14)5-7/h4-5,10,16-17H,6,15H2,1-3H3 checkY

Clenbuterol is a sympathomimetic amine used by sufferers of breathing disorders as a decongestant and bronchodilator. People with chronic breathing disorders such as asthma use this as a bronchodilator to make breathing easier. It is most commonly available as the hydrochloride salt, clenbuterol hydrochloride.[2]

It was patented in 1967 and came into medical use in 1977.[3]

Medical uses

Clenbuterol is approved for use in some countries as a bronchodilator for asthma.[medical citation needed]

Clenbuterol is a β2 agonist with some structural and pharmacological similarities to epinephrine and salbutamol, but its effects are more potent and longer-lasting as a stimulant and thermogenic drug.[citation needed] It is commonly used for smooth muscle-relaxant properties as a bronchodilator and tocolytic.

It is classified by the World Anti-Doping Agency as an anabolic agent, not as a β2 agonist.[4]

Clenbuterol is prescribed for treatment of respiratory diseases for horses, and as an obstetrical aid in cattle.[5] It is illegal in some countries to use in livestock used for food.[6]

Side effects

Clenbuterol can cause these long and short term side effects:[7]

Short term side effects:

Long term side effects:


Use over the recommended dose of about 120 μg can cause muscle tremors, headache, dizziness, and gastric irritation. Persons self-administering the drug for weight loss or to improve athletic performance have experienced nausea, vomiting, diaphoresis, palpitations, tachycardia, and myocardial infarction. Use of the drug may be confirmed by detecting its presence in semen or urine.[8]

Society and culture

Legal status

Clenbuterol is not an ingredient of any therapeutic drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration[citation needed] and is now banned for IOC-tested athletes.[9] In the US, administration of clenbuterol to any animal that could be used as food for human consumption is banned by the FDA.[10][11]


Although often used by bodybuilders during their "cutting" cycles,[12] the drug has been more recently[as of?] known to the mainstream, particularly through publicized stories of use by celebrities such as Victoria Beckham,[9] Britney Spears, and Lindsay Lohan,[13] for its off-label use as a weight-loss drug similar to usage of other sympathomimetic amines such as ephedrine, despite the lack of sufficient clinical testing either supporting or negating such use. In 2021, Odalis Santos Mena, a Mexican fitness influencer, died after suffering a cardiac arrest while being anesthetized for a procedure of miraDry, a treatment that uses thermal energy to eliminate underarm sweat glands. The coroner reported that Mena's death was attributed to a combination of Clenbuterol and anesthesia.

Performance-enhancing drug

This section may contain indiscriminate, excessive, or irrelevant examples. Please improve the article by adding more descriptive text and removing less pertinent examples. See Wikipedia's guide to writing better articles for further suggestions. (June 2016)

A common misconception about Clenbuterol is that it has anabolic properties, and can increase muscle mass when used in higher dosages. This claim has never been substantiated, and likely originated from equine research.[14] A beta-2 agonist, Clenbuterol has been found to increase short-term work rate and cardiovascular output, and consequently, its anabolic effects in horses can be attributed to exercise output and increased caloric intake. Given its ability to increase basal metabolic rate, maximum heart rate, and exercise output, Clenbuterol has ergogenic properties more closely related to ephedrine or amphetamine.

The notion that Clenbuterol is an anabolic agent likely originated from author and renowned authority on performance-enhancement Dan Duchaine. Duchaine popularized the drug in the bodybuilding community, and was the first to suggest the drug had muscle-building properties. Likewise, Duchaine erred in promoting the drug Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) as an anabolic agent, and served time for the unlawful possession and distribution of the drug in the mid-1990s.[15] As of 2011, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) listed Clenbuterol as an anabolic agent, despite the fact there is no evidence to suggest this is the case.[16]

As a β2 sympathomimetic, clenbuterol has also been used as a performance-enhancing drug.

A three-year suspension for taking clenbuterol kept sprinter Katrin Krabbe from competing in the 1992 Summer Olympics, and effectively ended her athletic career.[17][18]

In 2006, San Francisco Giants pitcher Guillermo Mota, while a member of the New York Mets, received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for clenbuterol.[19] In 2012, MLB officials announced they were again suspending Mota for 100 games due a positive test for clenbuterol.[20]

American swimmer Jessica Hardy tested positive at the US trials in 2008. She was subject to a one-year suspension, having claimed she unknowingly took the drug in a contaminated food supplement. Former New York Mets clubhouse employee Kirk Radomski admitted in his plea deal to distributing clenbuterol to dozens of current and former Major League Baseball players and associates.[21] After finishing fourth in the K-2 1000-m event at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Polish sprint canoer Adam Seroczyński was disqualified for taking this drug, and Chinese cyclist Li Fuyu tested positive for it at the Dwars door Vlaanderen race in Belgium on March 24, 2010.[22]

In 2010, St. Louis Cardinals minor-league shortstop Lainer Bueno received a 50-game suspension for the 2011 season as a result of testing positive for clenbuterol.[23]

Cyclist Alberto Contador of Spain was banned for two years from professional cycling after testing positive for the drug at the 2010 Tour de France.[24] He was later stripped of the 2010 title of the Tour de France and the 2011 title of the Giro d'Italia.[25] CAS found that Contador probably tested positive due to a contaminated food supplement.[26] In 2013, Contador's teammate on the Team Saxo Bank squad, Michael Rogers, tested positive for clenbuterol at the Japan Cup bike race. In April 2014, the Union Cycliste Internationale announced that it accepted Rogers' explanation that the substance had been ingested by him after consuming contaminated meat whilst competing at the 2013 Tour of Beijing, upholding Rogers' disqualification from the Japan Cup, but declining to impose any further sanctions on him.[27]

In 2011, players of the Mexico national football team were found with clenbuterol in their bloodstreams, but were acquitted by WADA after they claimed the clenbuterol came from contaminated food. FIFA has also claimed 109 players from multiple countries who were participating in the Under-17 World Cup in Mexico tested positive for this drug. However, FIFA and the World Anti-Doping Agency declined to prosecute any cases because the weight of evidence pointed to contamination from Mexican meat.[28][29]

In 2013, Mexican boxer Erik Morales was suspended for two years after testing positive for clenbuterol.[30]

In 2014, Toronto Maple Leafs Forward Carter Ashton was suspended from the NHL for 20 games without pay for violating the NHL/NHL Players' Association Performance Enhancing Substances Program after it was determined that he had ingested clenbuterol. Carter claimed he used an unprescribed asthma inhaler.[31]

In 2014, South Korean swimmer Kim Ji-heun has tested positive for clenbuterol at an out-of-competition test on May 13, 2014. After completion of proceedings by the Korea Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel, Kim received a two-year suspension, back-dated to the day of his positive test.[32]

In 2014, Czech body builder Petr Soukup received a lifetime ban after a positive test for clenbuterol along with methenolone, mesterolone, methamphetamine, oxandrolone, stanozolol, nandrolone, fluoxymesterone, CDMT ("Oral Turinabol"), and metandienone.[33]

In 2015, Yankees minor-league pitching prospect Moises Cedeno tested positive for clenbuterol and was suspended for 72 games.[34]

In 2015, two players from the Collingwood Football Club in Australia were delisted from the club and accepted two-year bans from all sport in Australia after testing positive to the substance, which they believe may have been in a contaminated illicit drug they consumed.[35][36]

In 2016, Australian heavyweight boxing champion Lucas Browne tested positive for clenbuterol.[37][38]

In 2016, Raul A. Mondesi tested positive for clenbuterol and was suspended 50 games from the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. MLB and the MLBPA agreed to reduce the suspension from 80 games to 50 games after Mondesi claimed it was found in cold medicine.[39]

In 2016, the California State Athletic Commission decided to issue Francisco Vargas a temporary boxing license on a probationary basis after he tested positive for clenbuterol.[40]

In 2018, British Olympic sprinter Nigel Levine was provisionally suspended for failing a drug test.[41]

In March 2018, champion boxer Canelo Alvarez tested positive for clenbuterol on two consecutive urine tests in February 2018.[42] This violation led to the cancellation of a heavily anticipated rematch between Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, which was to be held on May 5, 2018.[43]

Food contamination

Clenbuterol is occasionally referred to as "bute" and this risks confusion with phenylbutazone, also called "bute". Phenylbutazone, which is a drug also used with horses, was tested for in the 2013 European meat adulteration scandal.[44]

Intended to result in leaner meat with a higher muscle-to-fat ratio, the use of clenbuterol has been banned in meat since 1991 in the US and since 1996 in the European Union. The drug is banned due to health concerns about symptoms noted in consumers. These include increased heart rate, muscular tremors, headaches, nausea, fever, and chills. In several cases in Europe, these adverse symptoms have been temporary.[45]

Clenbuterol is a growth-promoting drug in the β agonist class of compounds. It is not licensed for use in China,[46] the United States,[45] or the EU[47] for food-producing animals, but some countries have approved it for animals not used for food, and a few countries have approved it for therapeutic uses in food-producing animals.

Not just athletes are affected by contamination. In Portugal, 50 people were reported as affected by clenbuterol in liver and pork between 1998 and 2002, while in 1990, veal liver was suspected of causing clenbuterol poisoning in 22 people in France and 135 people in Spain.[48]

In September 2006, some 330 people in Shanghai suffered from food poisoning after eating clenbuterol-contaminated pork.[49]

In February 2009, at least 70 people in one Chinese province (Guangdong) suffered food poisoning after eating pig organs believed to contain clenbuterol residue. The victims complained of stomach aches and diarrhea after eating pig organs bought in local markets.[50]

In March 2011, China's Ministry of Agriculture said the government would launch a one-year crackdown on illegal additives in pig feed, after a subsidiary of Shuanghui Group, China's largest meat producer, was exposed for using clenbuterol-contaminated pork in its meat products. A total of 72 people in central Henan Province, where Shuanghui is based, were taken into police custody for allegedly producing, selling, or using clenbuterol.[51] The situation has dramatically improved in China since September 2011, when a ban of clenbuterol was announced by China's Ministry of Agriculture.[52]

Authorities around the world appear to be issuing stricter food safety requirements, such as the Food Safety Modernization Act in the United States, Canada's revision of their import regulations, China's new food laws published since 2009, South Africa's new food law, and many more global changes and restrictions.

Veterinary use

Clenbuterol is administered as an aerosol for the treatment of allergic respiratory disease in horses as a bronchodilator, and intravenously in cattle to relax the uterus in cows at the time of parturition,[53] specifically to facilitate exteriorisation of the uterus during Caesarian section surgery. It is licensed for obstetrical use in cattle as Planipart Solution for Injection.[54]

See also


  1. ^ Center for Veterinary Medicine. "FOIA Drug Summaries - NADA 140-973 VENTIPULMIN® SYRUP - original approval". Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  2. ^ "874. Clenbuterol (WHO Food Additives Series 38)". Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  3. ^ Fischer J, Ganellin CR (2006). Analogue-based Drug Discovery. John Wiley & Sons. p. 543. ISBN 9783527607495.
  4. ^ Pluim BM, de Hon O, Staal JB, Limpens J, Kuipers H, Overbeek SE, et al. (January 2011). "β₂-Agonists and physical performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials". Sports Medicine. 41 (1): 39–57. doi:10.2165/11537540-000000000-00000. PMID 21142283. S2CID 189906919.
  5. ^ "Presentation". Retrieved 2020-01-24.
  6. ^ Dowling PM. "Systemic Therapy of Inflammatory Airway Disease". Merck Veterinary Manual. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Clenbuterol Side Effects". Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  8. ^ R. Baselt, Disposition of Toxic Drugs and Chemicals in Man, 8th edition, Biomedical Publications, Foster City, CA, 2008, pp. 325–326.
  9. ^ a b Guest K (2007-04-10). "Clenbuterol: The new weight-loss wonder drug gripping Planet Zero". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 2007-04-08. Retrieved 2007-04-10.
  10. ^ FDA's Prohibited Drug List, Food Animal Residue Avoidance & Depletion Program
  11. ^ "Animal Drugs @ FDA". Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  12. ^ "Anabolic Steroids and SARMS Handbook for Bodybuilders and Athletes". Retrieved 2019-06-16.
  13. ^ "Clenbuterol Weight Loss Hollywood Secret". PRBuzz. London. 2012-05-17. Archived from the original on 2018-07-19. Retrieved 2012-04-10.
  14. ^ Kearns CF. "Clenbuterol and the Horse Revisisted". Research Gate. The Veterinary Journal. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  15. ^ Assael S. "Dan Duchaine: a founding father of the steroid movement". ESPN. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  16. ^ Pluim BM, de Hon O, Staal JB, Limpens J, Kuipers H, Overbeek SE, et al. (January 2011). "β₂-Agonists and physical performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials". Sports Medicine. 41 (1): 39–57. doi:10.2165/11537540-000000000-00000. PMID 21142283. S2CID 189906919.
  17. ^ "Philip Hersh - Series on Athletics in the GDR".
  18. ^ "Krabbe receives IAAF settlement". BBC News. 2002-04-30.
  19. ^ "Giants reliever Mota gets 100-game suspension". 7 May 2012.
  20. ^ Dittmeier B (May 7, 2012). "Mota suspended 100 games for positive test". Major League Baseball. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  21. ^ Snyder W (2010-09-30). "Alberto Contador Tests Positive For Banned Substance". Huffington Post.
  22. ^ "Radioshack suspends Li after doping positive -". 22 April 2010.
  23. ^ "Three Minor League players suspended". September 30, 2010.
  24. ^ Macur J (29 September 2010). "With Positive Test, Contador May Lose Tour Title". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
  25. ^ CAS Sanction Contador with two year ban in clenbuterol case,, 6 February 2012
  26. ^ "Alberto Contador Found Guilty of an Anti-Doping Rule Violation by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS): Suspension of Two Years" (PDF). Lausanne: Court of Arbitration for Sport. 6 February 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-26. Retrieved 2011-02-13.
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  28. ^ "FIFA alarmed by use of food supplements". September 5, 2012.
  29. ^ "Clenbuterol found in most players at Under-17 World Cup - ESPN".
  30. ^ "Boxer Erik Morales banned for two years for failed drug test". BBC Sport. 22 March 2013.
  31. ^ "Leafs' Ashton suspended 20 games for violating PED policy -". 6 November 2014.
  32. ^ "[수영]이기흥 회장 "박태환, 리우올림픽 출전 의지 있다"" [Swimming: "Park Tae-hwan might miss the Olympic Games", according to the chairman] (in Korean). The Chosun Ilbo. 25 March 2015. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  33. ^ "Antidopingový výbor ČR". Archived from the original on 2013-02-15. Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  34. ^ "Yankees minor league pitcher Cedeno suspended 72 games". Archived from the original on 2015-03-21.
  35. ^ "Magpies Keeffe, Thomas accept two-year doping bans". 10 August 2015.
  36. ^ "No Cookies - Herald Sun".
  37. ^ "Heavyweight champ 'Big Daddy' Browne seeking legal advice over banned substance reports". ABC News. 21 March 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-22.
  38. ^ "Australia's first world heavyweight champion boxer Lucas Browne fails drug test". The Sydney Morning Herald. 22 March 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-22.
  39. ^ "Raul Mondesi Jr. suspended 50 games for PEDs found in cold medicine". CBS News. May 10, 2016.
  40. ^ "The Ring - The Bible of Boxing - News, Videos, Events and Ratings". The Ring.
  41. ^ "Nigel Levine: British sprinter provisionally suspended for failing drugs test". BBC Sport. 2018-02-07. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  42. ^ "Canelo Alverez Tests Positive for Banned Substance, Blames Mexican Cows". TMZ. Retrieved 2018-03-05.
  43. ^ "Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin bout canceled following doping allegations". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-04-04.
  44. ^ "Horse meat investigation. Advice for consumers". Enforcement and regulation. Food Standards Agency. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  45. ^ a b "Clenbuterol" Archived 2012-08-29 at the Wayback Machine, Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), July 1995, Retrieved 8 April 2015
  46. ^ China bans production, sale of clenbuterol to improve food safety Retrieved 08/22/2012
  47. ^ European Commission Archived 2012-08-10 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 08/22/2012
  48. ^ Anti Doping Advisory Notes Archived 2015-05-22 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 08/22/2012
  49. ^ Research Brief: Food Safety in China (PDF). China Environmental Health Project, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. June 28, 2007.
  50. ^ "China: 70 ill from tainted pig organs". CNN. 2009-02-23. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
  51. ^ "China to launch one-year crackdown on contaminated pig feed –". Xinhua. 2011-03-28. Archived from the original on April 1, 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-29.
  52. ^ Bottemiller H (April 26, 2011). "Amid Scandal, China Bans More Food Additives". Food Safety News. Retrieved August 22, 2012.
  53. ^ Planipart Solution for Injection 30 micrograms/ml: Uses Archived 2011-07-21 at the Wayback Machine, National Office of Animal Health
  54. ^ "Presentation". Retrieved 2020-01-24.

Further reading

  • Kearns CF, McKeever KH, Malinowski K, Struck MB, Abe T (November 2001). "Chronic administration of therapeutic levels of clenbuterol acts as a repartitioning agent". Journal of Applied Physiology. 91 (5): 2064–70. doi:10.1152/jappl.2001.91.5.2064. PMID 11641345. S2CID 15387373.