December 09, 2012
Does EPO Really Boost Elite Cyclist Performance?

Would scientific researchers please do the fundamental research we need so that elite athletes can know which dangerous drugs are going to boost their chances of winning? Did Lance Armstrong threaten his health and get himself into trouble for no benefit?

The drug erythropoietin, often called EPO, is banned from sports because it is believed to enhance an athlete's performance and give people who use it an unfair advantage over unenhanced competitors. However a new systemic review of existing research, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, reveals that there is no scientific evidence that it does enhance performance, but there is evidence that using it in sport could place a user's health and life at risk.

If the athletes could anonymously register their drug usage and changes in performance we could get to the bottom of this question. Or maybe groups of athletes could do their own secret studies so at least they would know.

Seriously, if we let professional athletes use performance-enhancing drugs their performance could be systematically studied and control and experiments compared.

Professional cycling is a popular sport, but over the last decades the sport's image has been tainted by high-profile doping cases. EPO, a blood-cell stimulating hormone, has recently made headlines, with the United States of America's anti-doping agency (USADA) claiming that it was used by record seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

"Athletes and their medical staff may believe EPO enhances performance, but there is no evidence that anyone performed good experiments to check if EPO would actually improve performance in elite cyclists," says lead researcher Professor Adam Cohen, who works at the Centre for Human Drug Research in Leiden, The Netherlands.

It is even more important for athletes to try out stem cell therapies and gene therapies. If they could use these cutting edge therapies then those therapies would become available more quickly for the rest of us to reverse aging. Imagine athletes in their 30s doing stem cell therapies to extend their professional careers. If the leading bleeding edge therapies worked for them they'd also work for granny and granddad in their 80s.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2012 December 09 08:27 PM 


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