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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Follow up on EPO - an interesting question

So we wrote earlier today that EPO is a hormone (or a drug) that is used to stimulate the production of red blood cells.

And Lei, who has a running post as well - check it out here - wrote in and asked a really interesting question, which has stimulated a new post or two. As I gather, Lei is a medical student, who has set her sights on running a half marathon in September (way to go, Lei!), and she asked whether the effect of EPO is the same as that of altitude and if so, then why would cyclists use the drug, with all its side effects when they could get the same result from some altitude training?

So as I see it, there are two very interesting and relevant posts that I could write on this one:

1) The culture of cycling - why would cyclists use the drug when there are possible natural methods to achieve the same result? There are of course scientific reasons as well, which I will get into, but I really do believe the key is the culture of cycling, and in particular, the attention to detail and 'paranoia' (for want of a better word) that forces cyclists to try everything for the edge.

2) What are the benefits of altitude training and does it really work? I'll look at why altitude training is one of the more controversial issues in sports science, even though athletes swear by it!

So those are the two posts I'll work at tomorrow, so check them out over the course of the weekend, and thanks Lei for the idea!