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David Fiedler

What Exactly is Blood Doping and EPO Anyway?

By October 27, 2012

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A photograph of a syringe.So with the continued fall-out from the Lance Armstrong affair, one thing that may not be clearly understood by the casual cycling fan is what exactly these cyclists were doing that got them suspended.

We hear phrases like "blood doping" and that racers were using EPO to gain an unfair advantage in competition, but what does all this mean?

Blood doping is like something out of a B-grade horror movie, where riders extract blood from themselves prior to competition, then later reinject it back into their system during a tour-type event, which has days of grueling competition.  The fresh, restored blood is able to carry more oxygen, therefore allowing their muscles to work even harder and giving them an edge over other riders.

EPO is a chemical substance (erythropoietin) that allows the body to artifically boost its red blood cell count, again allowing more oxygen to be carried than would occur naturally during competition. Because it was very difficult to detect in typical testing, EPO abuse was rampant in the late 1990s and 2000s.

Armstrong is not only accused of using these and other substances (including testosterone) himself, but in also directing and pressuring other riders to participate in order to gain an unfair advantage as well as conspiring to beat the testing systems in place designed to prevent and detect such activity.


November 1, 2012 at 2:15 pm
(1) Kim Hellyar says:

While I am not supporting the actions of doping, I would like to remind all of the folks out there that are so quick to judge and ask for their money back from the Livestrong Foundation how much this man has done to bring awareness to cancer research, funding and fitness in general.
Also, his story is remarkable. Not many people come back with the diagnosis he was handed and are able to compete at the level he did at all! It kills me that the people who yell the loudest are usually the ones who sit on their backsides on the weekends yelling at their televisions giving opinions on how they feel teams should compete, when they haven’t got a CLUE as to what goes into training financially, mentally or physically for these athletes or their families. They sacrifice their lives! Think about it, the next time you want to throw a negative thought at a professional athlete who may not be having a stellar day.
God bless this man for all the good things that he has done in the past with his name.

November 1, 2012 at 9:03 pm
(2) Mike says:

Let us also not forget the huge financial windfall that he has reaped from said foundation and by leveraging his story into huge sponsorship deals. Nothing against capitalism but to think that the foundation is a purely philanthropic venture is nonsense. Also don’t forget he was taking drugs and blood boosting substances before his cancer. You know what grows faster with a large supply of oxygenated blood? Cancer. Rampant speculation abounds that his drug use may have played a hand in exasperating his condition.

November 1, 2012 at 9:42 pm
(3) dave says:

I read an article some time past that the armstrong foundation doesn’t give any money to actual cancer research, so if this is true where does the money go?

November 1, 2012 at 10:12 pm
(4) tarayak says:

Re: Blood Doping, if your using your own blood and dont exceed the maximum amount of red blood count, then why is this illegal? Your not injecting anyone else’s blood nor using an artificial substance, so I’m not understanding the “illegal issue” as long as you stay within the limits and its your blood.

November 2, 2012 at 11:45 am
(5) Tim says:

To Mike: Where did you get this info? “the foundation is a purely philanthropic venture is nonsense.” “he was taking drugs and blood boosting substances before his cancer.” “Rampant speculation abounds
that his drug use may have played a hand in exasperating his condition.” Just making these statements tells us nothing. I could say, “Rampant speculation abounds that Mike doesn’t list his sources because he has none or that all valid.”
To Dave: “I read an article some time past that the armstrong foundation doesn’t give any money to actual cancer research.” Did you get this info from Mike?
Give us your sources guys so that we can check them out and make our own conclusions.

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