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EPO Abuse in Professional Cycling


David Millar breaking away with Yaroslav Popovych of the Discovery Channel Team

David Millar of Great Britain has acknowledged past use of EPO.

Bryn Lennon / Getty Images

Another form of cheating that has occurred in professional cycling is the use of a drug called erythropoietin (EPO) to gain an edge on the competition.

EPO is a chemical form of blood doping that first came about in the 1980s. Before a test became available in 2000 to detect the drug that helps boost the body’s red blood cell count, use and abuse of EPO was rampant in professional cycling, according to riders who competed at the time.

The spectre of the abuse that took place during this period is still apparent. In May 2007, the T-Mobile cycling team suspended two doctors who allegedly supplied EPO to former Tour de France winners Bjarne Riis, Jan Ullrich and other riders on the team (then known as Team Telekom) between 1992 and 1996, more than a decade earlier.

Though EPO is now a prohibited substance in professional cycling, and riders are regularly tested for its presence in their bodies, its use is still a problem.

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