Erythropoietin (abbreviated EPO) is a relatively recent entry into the deceitful pursuit of glory. EPO is a protein hormone produced by the kidney. After being released into the blood stream it binds with receptors in the bone marrow, where it stimulates the production of red blood cells (erythrocytes). Medically, EPO is used to treat certain forms of anemia (e.g., due to chronic kidney failure). Logically, since EPO accelerates erythrocyte production it also increases oxygen carrying capacity. This fact did not long escape notice of the athletic community.
Blood doping is the process of artificially increasing the amount of red blood cells in the body in an attempt to improve athletic performance. In the past this was accomplished by transfusion. The athlete would “donate” a unit of blood into storage and then 3 weeks later, after the body had completely replaced the blood loss, transfuse the unit back into the body. This would occur just before a big race, effectively giving the athlete an “extra” unit of blood. This enables performance improvements in endurance sports because of the extra oxygen carrying capacity.
EPO has put a whole new spin on blood doping. No need for messy transfusions, just shoot up with EPO to increase your circulating erythrocyte mass. Until recently accurate testing has been difficult because the recombinant human EPO made in the lab is virtually identical to the naturally occurring form and there are no firmly established normal ranges for EPO in the body. Thus, over the past 10 – 15 years some athletes chose to cheat because, as long as they kept their hematocrit levels below 50%, there seemed little risk of getting caught.
EPO is an injectable protein hormone that acts on bone marrow to stimulate red blood cell production. This is a new drug which is being experimented with by some elite athletes especially distance runners and elite cyclists. It has been very effective for what it is designed for and sometimes is used as a replacement for blood transfusions. Athletes use this drug to dramatically increase red blood cells which are the oxygen carrying components of blood. Athletes are well aware that if they can increase the oxygen-storing ability of their blood they can increase performance. This is the theory behind blood doping. EPO does the same thing but is more convenient considering the use of EPO just requires a number of injections. Blood doping requires drawing out approximately a liter of blood, freezing it, then thawing it and reinfusing it several weeks later. EPO has a dramatic effect on hematocrit which is the percentage of red blood cells in blood. A hematocrit of 40 means that 40% of the volume of blood is composed of red blood cells which is about normal. Athletes not uncommonly have a higher-than-average hematocrit. When an athlete injects EPO, there hematocrit can rise as much as 40%. This results in an especially high concentration of RBCS. EPO use is most widespread amongst endurance athletes yet a number of weightlifters have been experimenting with it.
Effective Dose: Between 50-300 IU/kg of bodyweight. Not to be used for more than 6 weeks. Will start seeing effects on week 3th. Inject EPO daily for 2 weeks before competition day. After week 3th, your red blood cells will remain high for the next 3-6 months.