Performance drug used by Armstrong not effective: Study
EPO, a doping drug that was used by American cyclist Lance Armstrong — for which he was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles 1 may have little effect on performance of athletes, a study has found.
One of the most celebrated athletes, the road racing cyclist Armstrong was the 1993 professional world champion, and had won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005.
However, in 2012, he was banned from sanctioned Olympic sports for life and stripped off his seven Tour de France titles after he confessed to using the drug erythropoietin (EPO).
Researchers from Centre for Human Drug Research in the Netherlands conducted a trial on about 48 well-trained non- professional male cyclists aged between 18 and 50 years.
They found that while performance was improved in high intensity tests, endurance and road race performances were similar for those who took the drug rHuEPO and those who did not.
They found that the drug led to elevated levels of
haemoglobin and adhesion molecules which could potentially increase the risk of thrombosis.
In the trial, half of the participants were given weekly injections of rHuEPO, and half were given a placebo (saline solution) over 8 weeks.
The aim was to increase the levels of haemoglobin in the participants of the rHuEPO group by 10-15 per cent compared to the start of the study. The doses used were consistent with known practises in professional cycling.
The trial involved a series of tests to evaluate different types of performance parameters.
The first test involved a ramp test, where pedalling resistance was increased
every 5 minutes until exhaustion (taking between 30-50 minutes).