Originally Posted by DirtyWorks
As for "the number" dead from EPO, it's nearly impossible to get it right. I think 6-16 is a solid statistic.
I think you will be under by a factor or 5-10 at least, likely more. Your number - presumably - focuses on the relatively high profile cases ie the known cyclists, and those whose deaths are more or less directly attributable.
Since EPO came on in 1985, but particularly in the last decade, we can expect many many athletes in second tier cycling events and in other sports to have died. Many of these deaths would never be directly attributed to EPO, but be of "vague" cardiovascular origin, eg."heart attacks" or "cardiovascular event". I am not sure if any post-mortem blood analysis would look at external EPO supplementation, so you would never formally see this on a death certificate.
Then there is the longer term mortality, and morbidity that eventually leads to mortality. Increasing the Hct above certain threshold values is highly likely to cause long term damage that may only manifest itself after years/decades, eg via damage to the microcirculation in the brain, etc. There are many ex-riders with long term cardiovascular complications that are likely to have as a primary cause the use of PED's incl. EPO.
It's a bit like steroid and hgh abuse. The exact impact is likely to be grossly under-reported. The human body is a finely honed system with many homeostatically controlled subsystems. Mucking around with these systems via drugs, unless indicated via specific diseases, is always likely to lead to problems.
Writing this post has just triggered another thought. It would be interesting to see/review the animal toxicology on EPO. In animal tox studies they basically dose the drug at high levels to see what the side effects are, and this includes lethal doses. These studies preceed human safety studies, and are necessary to avoid problems in patients (remember thalidomide), and to set a safe dose level at which the therapeutic effect prevails the side effect (if any at that dose).
So back to the thread. UCI has a distinct responsibility to manage the safety of its athletes with regard to controlling PEDs. What is stopping EPO use if the testing frequency is such that most athletes have an almost zero chance of getting caught (particularly if it is known that no testing will take place at an upcoming event - remember a recent ToC), and if certain team managers are given a tour of testing facilities and explained the ins and outs of the testing process.
The "dark era" of the past 20 years is proof that testing has been a total failure. Widespread doping, relatively few positive tests. The USADA case is proof of the failure of testing implementation by UCI.
Not because tests are not available (at least in the past decade or so). But because the implementation by the sports administrator has been woefully inadequate/incompetent, one could perhaps even argue criminally so.