Tuesday, February 21, 2012

EPO Testing Revisited: 2008 (Part Two; Updated)

Last time, we looked at the 2008 in-competition EPO tests conducted by the ITF. Let's now take a look at the out-of-competition EPO tests. Remember, according to the ITF, these tests were conducted only if blood screening indicated the player may be using the drug. To be clear, these players were not randomly selected, they were specifically targeted for EPO testing based on blood screening results. 

Two points:

1. Many top names were tested for EPO.

2. Attentive readers will notice that the table above has 39 EPO tests listed. In its totals column, the ITF's anti-doping statistics document states that 32 EPO out-of-competition tests were conducted. I'm assuming they made a typo as the individual test entries total up to 39.

Data Source: ITF 2008 Anti-Doping Statistics


  1. So they blood test people in *December*? As has been gone over many times before, there is no point to that. Test everyone 2 weeks before every slam, then one week before, then a few days before. Then during the slam randomly. Not December or October plus after a slam loss, for god's sake.

    As for the idea (as stated in the linked article) that they only EPO test players whose blood test turns up suspicious - I wonder why Djokovic was tested back in late 08 - as I am darn certain he wasn't on any EPO back then. Because we *now* know what EPO can do for Djokovic. Of course that's easy to know in hindsight - they didn't know in '08 what Dopervic (as opposed to Djokovic) would play like in '11/'12.

    If we are to (somehow) believe that his current GOAT-playing-form is the result of natural, confident good-eating, just imagine how good he would be if he *did* start taking PEDs!

  2. We still don't know how quickly they get blood test results, but it can't be faster than they get urine results, and we know that even the few athletes that have been nailed (including other sports, cycling for example) aren't nailed "on the spot"....if it isn't immediate (and it most likely isn't) then by the time they get a report "indicating" possible EPO use (likely an elevated hematocrit or hemoglobin level) the window of opportunity for still being able to detect EPO (or its testable by-products) is even smaller, if still existent at all.....with such a protocol they have no interest whatsoever in catching anyone....

    Federer, for example, was tested for EPO twice in a relatively short period of time (7/20 and 10/12) so one would assume they found something suspicious, possibly in June after the Wimbledon final and September after the USO final, but he wasn't tested for EPO until a month later in each case and evidently wasn't "popped" either time...even though he evidently didn't test positive it's damning evidence against him that he was even tested in the first place, given the ITF's supposed stance on ooc EPO testing....

    ...as for Djokovic, his last test most assuredly was due to "indicative" levels found after he won the '08 WTF in November...interestingly, though, his finals opponent was Davydenko who was tested for EPO 16 days before Djokovic though it's likely the "indicative" tests were at the same time (after the WTF championship)

    so it seems likely they aren't tested for about a month after they've given "suspicious" blood....plenty of time to clean up....this doesn't bode well for any of the top players from a suspicious standpoint or the ITF from a willingness to catch them standpoint

    1. Wait a minute...if they're giving blood and the blood test indicates possible EPO use, why do they need another blood test? Can't they use the same blood to test further? Why wait a month? Unless of course they really don't want a positive result.

    2. Hi Lopi,
      The EPO screen is blood. The EPO test is a urine test.

    3. Oh I see. Then why don't they just test for it in the first place?

    4. I mean, I assume the players are giving urine tests more often than blood tests so why not test all the time for EPO? Too expensive?

    5. EPO tests are more expensive: "This report also recommended that urine testing be used in conjunction with blood screening for a variety of reasons, including the cost savings of performing blood screening prior to testing urine."


  3. last thought....if their "indicators" never yield positive results (and we have to assume they wer 0 for 39 in 2008) then at some point wouldn't they change something?..if they were actually serious about catching anyone....if New York police think that a certain behavior is indicative of cocaine distribution, but then 39 times in a row they never are able to catch a single "suspect" distributing cocaine after observing the indicators, does anyone think they'd stick with that method?

  4. I am curious about the supposed link between EPO use and Mono. There seems to be a epidemic of mono cases in men's tennis lately and I wonder what is the reason.

    1. Yup, lots of em. Roddick, Stepanek, Fed, Soderling, Isner, Henin, Vaidasova, Dokic, Ancic, Verkerk, Bartoli, and probably lots I've missed.

      What's the betting Soderling's mono lasts for exactly one year?

    2. Clin Investig. 1994;72(6 Suppl):S36-43.
      Adverse events of erythropoietin in long-term and in acute/short-term treatment.
      Singbartl G.
      SourceDepartment of Anaesthesiology, Intensive Care and Transfusion Medicine, ENDO Clinic, Hamburg, Germany.

      Erythropoietin has been shown to be effective both in the reversal of anaemia in patients with end-stage renal failure and to increase the volume of autologous red blood cells donated preoperatively as well as to decrease the units of homologous blood transfused. This review analyzes the side effects of erythropoietin reported in the literature for long-term administration (mainly in patients with end-stage renal failure) as well as for acute/short-term administration (in patients participating in an autologous predeposit programme). The most important adverse events reported for long-term administration are as follows: (a) arterial hypertension; (b) cerebral convulsion/hypertensive encephalopathy; (c) thrombo-embolism; (d) iron deficiency; (e) influenza-like syndrome.


    3. Treatment of erythropoietin-induced pure red cell aplasia: a retrospective study.
      Verhelst D, Rossert J, Casadevall N, Krüger A, Eckardt KU, Macdougall IC.
      SourceDepartment of Nephrology, Tenon Hospital, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, and Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris, France.

      BACKGROUND: Recombinant human erythropoietin is the standard treatment for anaemia related to chronic kidney disease, and its widespread use has been favoured by a very high therapeutic index. However, since 1998, more than 200 patients worldwide with chronic kidney disease treated in this way have developed neutralising antibodies to erythropoietin, causing pure red cell aplasia.


      Pure red cell aplasia is a type of anemia.