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Erythropoietin (EPO), Epoetin (eh-POH-ee-tin)
BANNED SUBSTANCE in Amateur and Professional Sports
Erythropoietin (EPO) is a member of the hematopoietic growth factor family and is one of the few hematopoietic growth factors which behave like a hormone. The principal function of erythropoietin is to couple oxygen delivery by circulating red cells to long-term tissue oxygen needs. Produced primarily in the kidneys and to a small extent in the liver in adults, erythropoietin interacts in the bone marrow with specific receptors on the surface of erythroid progenitor cells to initiate their entry into cell cycle if dormant on to maintain their viability while differentiating, if they are already in active cell cycle. Erythropoietin achieves its effects by causing homodimerization of its receptor with the resultant autophosphorylation of the tyrosine kinase JAK2 and phosphorylation of the receptor itself, as well as various substrate proteins leading to the upregulation of a number of signaling pathways and the activation of gene transcription.
WADA Q&A EPO Detection:
What is EPO?
Erythropoietin (EPO) is a peptide hormone that is produced naturally by the human body. EPO is released from the kidneys and acts on the bone marrow to stimulate red blood cell production.
An increase in red blood cells improves the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry to the body's muscles. It may also increase the body's capacity to buffer lactic acid.
What are the side-effects of EPO misuse?
While proper use of EPO has an enormous therapeutic benefit in the treatment of anaemia related to cancer or kidney disease, its misuse can lead to serious health risks for athletes who use this substance simply to gain a competitive edge. It is well known that EPO, by thickening the blood, leads to an increased risk of several deadly diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and cerebral or pulmonary embolism. The misuse of recombinant human EPO may also lead to autoimmune diseases with serious health consequences.
When was EPO banned as a performance enhancing substance?
EPO has been banned since the early 1990s.
When was a test to detect EPO implemented?
A test for EPO was introduced at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney (Australia). The test, validated by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), was based on the blood and urine matrix. A blood screening was performed first, and a urine test was then used to confirm possible use of EPO.
Is the EPO detection method reliable?
The detection method for EPO is valid and reliable.
How has the EPO detection method evolved since its introduction in 2000?
The conservative approach used in the initial phase of implementation of the method allowed a large number of EPO abusers to escape detection.
Why did some individuals question the EPO detection method?
Questions were raised by certain individuals who are not well versed in the science of EPO detection in relation to a phenomenon that is rare but well understood by anti-doping experts.