The EPO test is ready

2000/06/08 Roa Zubia, Guillermo - Elhuyar Zientzia

The prestigious scientific journal Nature today publishes the new EPO hormone (erythropoietin) screening test for athletes. Erythropoietin is a hormone (erythropiesis) that causes the formation of red cells in the blood. Cyclists and other athletes use this hormone illegally to increase the amount of muscle oxygen. This also increases physical performance as it improves aerobic capacity.

The hormone can be detected in the urine of athletes.

The International Olympic Committee banned the use of this substance in sport ten years ago. The scandal originated at the EPO on the Tour 1998. Then, he came to light when he was a regular doping in other sports. The substance was undetectable in urine tests, as there was no adequate evidence. But now, in Paris, scientists from the French national anti-doping laboratory have prepared a new test. The scientific journal Nature will report this in today's issue.

First step, molecular structure

On this occasion, French scientists have found different characteristics, although very small, between the two types of EPO. The first step has been to determine the structure of the molecule within the urine. It was found that natural EPO has more acid groups than the rest, allowing separate and separate load distribution. The structure could change in the internal processes of the body, according to scientists.

To measure the efficacy of the test, 102 samples of frozen urine have been used, all of them of blood of the participants in the 1998 Tour. On 28 occasions there were high concentrations of EPO. The rest was below the detectable concentration. The fourteen most concentrated samples were used to look for traces of artificial EPO, finding in all of them a structure of this type. The new method is valid for sports with long tests.

In addition, an uninterrupted PCV can be detected for 6 months. However, scientists point out that the new test should be used outside the competition.

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