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Timing of EPO in early 90's that doesn't add up..

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Timing of EPO in early 90's that doesn't add up..

27 Jul 2018 04:06

I'm confused about when the EPO era really began. Lemond would have you believe that it was the 1991 Tour...

However..there was the famous Gewiss 3 person destruction of the Fleche Wallone in 1994 that was supposed to be the sign that they were on to something new that the rest of the peloton hadn't caught on to yet. Bjarne Riis said he was introduced to EPO in late 92.

Hincapie said Lance was furious about getting destroyed by EPO takers at the 1995 Milan-San Remo.

I know there were the dutch riders in the 80's, but when did it become mainstream so to speak? Was Indurain on EPO in 1991?
Juan Pelota
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27 Jul 2018 05:34

There has been discussion about this in the Clinic.
for example here viewtopic.php?f=20&t=9589
here viewtopic.php?f=20&t=29488
and viewtopic.php?f=20&t=21558

I also remember a thread about whether or not cyclists really died from EPO in the 80s.

I don't know if the question has ever been satisfyingly answered really though.

My gut feeling is, that Indurain must have been on EPO in 1991 already, but the peloton probably wasn't saturated with EPO/blood doping yet and the techniques how to use it most effeciently weren't perfect.
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Re: Timing of EPO in early 90's that doesn't add up..

27 Jul 2018 07:32

Juan Pelota wrote:I'm confused about when the EPO era really began. Lemond would have you believe that it was the 1991 Tour...

However..there was the famous Gewiss 3 person destruction of the Fleche Wallone in 1994 that was supposed to be the sign that they were on to something new that the rest of the peloton hadn't caught on to yet. Bjarne Riis said he was introduced to EPO in late 92.

Hincapie said Lance was furious about getting destroyed by EPO takers at the 1995 Milan-San Remo.
Lance gave a presentation on this at a sports governing class at Colorado University back in 2016. FWIW, he says he started EPO in the "late spring of 95." He explains that he won the WC in 93 "EPO-free," got his "ass-kicked" by EPO users in 94, and made the decision to go "high-octane" in 95 (@ 3:00 in). Interesting presentation, but how much is true I have no idea (it's LA talking, bear in mind).

https://youtu.be/fshoz6cnKPY

I don't know much about the EPO-cycling connection in the early 90s, but I can tell you that EPO was verified to have been used at both the Calgary & Seoul Olympics in 1988 (the clinicals started in 86 and in 1987 the drug was approved for medical use in Europe).
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Re: Timing of EPO in early 90's that doesn't add up..

27 Jul 2018 07:36

I've been myself also confused about the timeline issue because the dates of the "great change" range from 1989 to 1995 depending on who is describing the issue and if I am not mistaken, Frankie Andreu mentioned somewhere 1996 as the "watershed" year.

While my M.O. isn't to flood the forums with links into my blog to get more traffic, I wrote an entry on the "great change"-issue of cycling roughly a year ago and it is decently readable via the new algorithm of the Google Translate, if anyone is interested:

http://aragon85.blogspot.com/2017/07/repo-hormoni-ja-kilpapyorailyn-suuri.html

When I forwarded the timeline problem to the Dutch researcher Jules Heuberger, he also found the timelines totally inconsisted and gave a comment on the issue. As most CN-readers know, he is part of the emerging Dutch research tradition that takes a more skeptical approach about the efficacy of rHuEPO and he coauthored the famous Mont Ventoux - research allegedly showing no benefit with the hormone on the road.
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Re: Timing of EPO in early 90's that doesn't add up..

27 Jul 2018 08:15

Clinical trials has been completed by 1983 in America but not sure about Europe. EPO was seen as an alternative to expensive and impractical blood transfusions.

Something "big" happened between 1980 and 1984 and the tell is in track and field especially in the middle distance events e.g. 800 metres. Nobody has a name for this era or the few years leading up to it.
buckle
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27 Jul 2018 09:12

There would necessarily be some delay between the start of the use of EPO and the refinement and perfection of EPO programs. The traditional timeline suggested that EPO would have started to be used by some pioneers around 1990, by 1992-3 it was widespread and by 1995 it was nearly universal. Quite a few people have put forward very compelling arguments to push back the start date to the late or even mid 80s.

If you look at Indurain, you would have to say he either wasn't on EPO until 1992, or he was on EPO already in 1991 (or before, naturally) and his program improved a lot from 1992 onwards. The same phenomenon might well explain Gewiss/Mecair once they got Ferrari on board. In the early days, it's even possible that the main difference was simply how far people were willing to push their hematocrits up, with figures getting quite extreme in many documented cases at Gewiss by 1994-1995.
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27 Jul 2018 10:08

Looks like Heuberger needs to do a bit more "research"
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Re: Timing of EPO in early 90's that doesn't add up..

27 Jul 2018 10:35

Aragon wrote:I've been myself also confused about the timeline issue because the dates of the "great change" range from 1989 to 1995 depending on who is describing the issue and if I am not mistaken, Frankie Andreu mentioned somewhere 1996 as the "watershed" year.

While my M.O. isn't to flood the forums with links into my blog to get more traffic, I wrote an entry on the "great change"-issue of cycling roughly a year ago and it is decently readable via the new algorithm of the Google Translate, if anyone is interested:

http://aragon85.blogspot.com/2017/07/repo-hormoni-ja-kilpapyorailyn-suuri.html

When I forwarded the timeline problem to the Dutch researcher Jules Heuberger, he also found the timelines totally inconsisted and gave a comment on the issue. As most CN-readers know, he is part of the emerging Dutch research tradition that takes a more skeptical approach about the efficacy of rHuEPO and he coauthored the famous Mont Ventoux - research allegedly showing no benefit with the hormone on the road.


EPO showing no benefit on the road :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Still one of my favourite spoof studies
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Re:

27 Jul 2018 10:41

sittingbison wrote:Looks like Heuberger needs to do a bit more "research"

He as well as his Dutch colleagues have already conducted a decent amount of research and I am certain that he will do some more.

Without taking any position whether their conclusions are more right than not right, it is great that some researchers take the skeptical approach on the efficacy of rHuEPO instead of taking at face value the "I couldn't compete because EPO is so powerful" and "I had to use EPO because it is so powerful" bitching and whining from less succesfull cyclists and confirmed dopers who have many biases to tilt the narrative to one direction in order to rationalise their behaviour or (lack of) success.

Here is the Heuberger-quote in full for everybody to read to avoid click-baiting from my part:
Jules Heuberger wrote:Moreover, what we know from medicine is that human beings are very bad at connecting cause and effect. If you have a bad day or other guys have a good day and you know of a so-called superdoping, you would easily conclude the difference in performance must be because of the doping. If there was no such doping rumour, you would have thought it was chance or a good or bad day.

Just take look at Tyler Hamilton's decision to use rHuEPO when he saw that Marty Jemison was triumphant one day and it is obvious that Heuberger has a point there.
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Re: Re:

27 Jul 2018 10:54

Aragon wrote:
sittingbison wrote:Looks like Heuberger needs to do a bit more "research"

He as well as his Dutch colleagues have already conducted a decent amount of research and I am certain that he will do some more.

Without taking any position whether their conclusions are more right than not right, it is great that some researchers take the skeptical approach on the efficacy of rHuEPO instead of taking at face value the "I couldn't compete because EPO is so powerful" and "I had to use EPO because it is so powerful" bitching and whining from less succesfull cyclists and confirmed dopers who have many biases to tilt the narrative to one direction in order to rationalise their behaviour or (lack of) success.

Here is the Heuberger-quote in full for everybody to read to avoid click-baiting from my part:
Jules Heuberger wrote:Moreover, what we know from medicine is that human beings are very bad at connecting cause and effect. If you have a bad day or other guys have a good day and you know of a so-called superdoping, you would easily conclude the difference in performance must be because of the doping. If there was no such doping rumour, you would have thought it was chance or a good or bad day.

Just take look at Tyler Hamilton's decision to use rHuEPO when he saw that Marty Jemison was triumphant one day and it is obvious that Heuberger has a point there.


OK, ill hold my hands up here and say i'm guilty of perhaps just reading the headlines and not the full in depth study.....but EPO works in exactly the way cyclists want it to work. That is a fact.

Of course, you can go much deeper into the psychology of doping to argue just how powerful it actually is, both positively and negatively, and if this is what the study does then maybe its worth a read......but EPO definetely works.
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Re:

27 Jul 2018 11:05

spalco wrote:There has been discussion about this in the Clinic.
for example here viewtopic.php?f=20&t=9589
here viewtopic.php?f=20&t=29488
and viewtopic.php?f=20&t=21558

I also remember a thread about whether or not cyclists really died from EPO in the 80s.

I don't know if the question has ever been satisfyingly answered really though.

My gut feeling is, that Indurain must have been on EPO in 1991 already, but the peloton probably wasn't saturated with EPO/blood doping yet and the techniques how to use it most effeciently weren't perfect.


Probably worth mentioning that EPO largely replaced blood transfusions and then ultimately blood transfusions replaced EPO again when a valid EPO test came in 2003 and got more effective by 2006 where it was very difficult to use EPO with impunity liek the past.

This is why the whole Armstrong never tested positive nonsense comes from. Nobody ever tested positive, because UCI basically allowed and maintained its use and it wasn't until 2003-2006 where you really had to worry about testing positive for it and why riders ultimately switched back to less-effective blood transfusions and situations like Peurto blood bags rather than Festina car full of EPO. Later you have the new EPO variants, assumed not to be detectable until 2008 where they basically all fell like dominos.
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Re: Timing of EPO in early 90's that doesn't add up..

27 Jul 2018 12:59

Aragon wrote:I've been myself also confused about the timeline issue because the dates of the "great change" range from 1989 to 1995 depending on who is describing the issue and if I am not mistaken, Frankie Andreu mentioned somewhere 1996 as the "watershed" year.

While my M.O. isn't to flood the forums with links into my blog to get more traffic, I wrote an entry on the "great change"-issue of cycling roughly a year ago and it is decently readable via the new algorithm of the Google Translate, if anyone is interested:

http://aragon85.blogspot.com/2017/07/repo-hormoni-ja-kilpapyorailyn-suuri.html

When I forwarded the timeline problem to the Dutch researcher Jules Heuberger, he also found the timelines totally inconsisted and gave a comment on the issue. As most CN-readers know, he is part of the emerging Dutch research tradition that takes a more skeptical approach about the efficacy of rHuEPO and he coauthored the famous Mont Ventoux - research allegedly showing no benefit with the hormone on the road.
If you don't mind me putting it like this, but you appear to be confusing multiple issues. There are three key strands: 1) When did EPO arrive?; 2) Were there step-changes in performance by which we can date 'epochs' of Gen-EPO?; 3) Can such step-changes really be credited to EPO, or is its role as a performance enhancer just a myth?

Let's take the first one. It's fairly well established at this stage that by the late eighties - 1988 specifically - people knew EPO was arriving and believed it had the power to replace blood transfusions. We have newspaper reports from around the time of the Calgary Games talking of its future potential, we have Les Earnest, we have the evidence you cite, such as Winnen.

But who was using it? We know that some in the pharma industry wanted it to be used in sports. Søren Kragbak is one who has spoken of this. Were some sports people being used as human guinea pigs, supplied with the drug free or at a deep discount? This can't be ruled out.

When did EPO become a cheap alternative to blood transfusions? We both know that one of the drawbacks of blood bags at that time was expense and we both know that EPO is said to have made economic sense. But at CHF 800 - what's that, circa fifteen hundred euro today, so in real money quite a chunk of change in the early 1990s - how many could actually afford such a drug?

Was cycling a single sport at that time, something happening in one corner would be repeated in others? Or did it have clear and distinct cultures? Evidence suggests that Italian cycling had a more science-based culture than, say, French cycling. And had more government support, producing the likes of Francesco Conconi. It is not difficult to see, within cycling, first an Italian nexus. And then to see Spanish cycling rising up and following Italy's example (with the likes of Eufemiano Fuentes and Sabino Padilla). Is it possible that the French culture took longer still to catch up, that Festina's decision in 1993 to 'get with the programme' is believable? That Postal's decision in 1995 is believable?

When did EPO become a team-wide phenomenon? It isn't likely its use would have been team-wide from the get-go. As with blood bags, it would seem likely that its use was limited to designated riders at designated races. But at some point the upward swing in cycling's economics - the money coming into the sport and the increased need for a performance-based return on that investment throughout the season and not just at one or two races - would have met the downward slide of EPO's price and team-wide doping made economic sense (such as the decision made by Festina in 1993).

If you take these different issues, the testimonies of different riders - while all being somewhat self-centered and blinkered - isn't as confusing as when presented by those who speak definitively of a Year One for Gen-EPO.

As for the other issues, the performance stuff, I don't see the relevance. EPO was real, the fear of EPO was real - both in the belief in the bodies piling up on mortuary slabs and in the belief that it was performance enhancing. EPO was clearly having an effect on the sport. Whether you believe it was or was not having an effect on the athlete, that is quite irrelevant to the issue of when, how and where EPO arrived.
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Re: Re:

27 Jul 2018 13:27

Aragon wrote:
sittingbison wrote:Looks like Heuberger needs to do a bit more "research"

He as well as his Dutch colleagues have already conducted a decent amount of research and I am certain that he will do some more.

Without taking any position whether their conclusions are more right than not right, it is great that some researchers take the skeptical approach on the efficacy of rHuEPO instead of taking at face value the "I couldn't compete because EPO is so powerful" and "I had to use EPO because it is so powerful" bitching and whining from less succesfull cyclists and confirmed dopers who have many biases to tilt the narrative to one direction in order to rationalise their behaviour or (lack of) success.

Here is the Heuberger-quote in full for everybody to read to avoid click-baiting from my part:
Jules Heuberger wrote:Moreover, what we know from medicine is that human beings are very bad at connecting cause and effect. If you have a bad day or other guys have a good day and you know of a so-called superdoping, you would easily conclude the difference in performance must be because of the doping. If there was no such doping rumour, you would have thought it was chance or a good or bad day.

Just take look at Tyler Hamilton's decision to use rHuEPO when he saw that Marty Jemison was triumphant one day and it is obvious that Heuberger has a point there.


The EPO only works for sick people argument contains a logic problem. An athlete who is performing at the highest levels is making himself ill in order to do so. An example is the death zone on Everest. A human being begins to die when entering it. Taking oxygen is a logical response in order to prevent chronic sickness and death. It is no different for an elite athlete in an endurance event even if the context is less dramatic.
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Re: Timing of EPO in early 90's that doesn't add up..

27 Jul 2018 14:51

fmk_RoI wrote:If you don't mind me putting it like this, but you appear to be confusing multiple issues...

The essay can be confusing on many things particularly when it raises more questions than it answers, not to mention that I am confused about the timeline(s) myself.

It should be emphasized that it is not even a superficial look on how and when rHuEPO entered the peloton at all nor is there any attempt from my part to establish any timeline in this regard and the only "fixed" date is November 1989, when one Italian sports journalist warned that the Eprex had been available from Swiss pharmacies and not being that expensive.

The bulk of the text is only about the "major change" within the cycling world and about different perceptions when exactly people noticed this taking place or more accurately it is about the cyclists themselves later recalling the issue when both the "users" and the "non-users" might have their own motives to tilt the timeline to one direction or another. There might be various reason why the different timeframes aren't totally contradictory for additional reasons you also bring up.

The rHuEPO-skeptic research is only an afterthought, but the quote by Jules Heuberger could explain the different subjective perceptives particularly when we pretty certainly know that Hamilton was "sure" than Jemison was on the drug in 1996 when he wasn't. I am not representing Jules Heuberger nor do I have any dog in the fight about accuracy of his other research or about his opinions about rHuEPO.
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Re: Timing of EPO in early 90's that doesn't add up..

27 Jul 2018 17:31

Juan Pelota wrote:I'm confused about when the EPO era really began. Lemond would have you believe that it was the 1991 Tour...

However..there was the famous Gewiss 3 person destruction of the Fleche Wallone in 1994 that was supposed to be the sign that they were on to something new that the rest of the peloton hadn't caught on to yet. Bjarne Riis said he was introduced to EPO in late 92.

Hincapie said Lance was furious about getting destroyed by EPO takers at the 1995 Milan-San Remo.

I know there were the dutch riders in the 80's, but when did it become mainstream so to speak? Was Indurain on EPO in 1991?

Chiapucci and Bugno.

Of course it was tested and tried in the 80's. But like every drug, its used was perfected and produced at mass in the 90's.
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27 Jul 2018 17:39

I'm thinking it was in use in the late 80's, but the true potential of EPO wasn't unlocked until Conconi started experimenting on his lab rats. As with all medicine, it does take time to figure out the dosages to get the most out of the substance. Conconi (and later on Ferrari) were the ones that perfected that for EPO and a combination of other known drugs as an enhancer of cycling performance.
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27 Jul 2018 17:49

Dosage and timing. In the beginning some riders took EPO the day of the race without success.
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27 Jul 2018 22:16

It takes years to learn how to use a drug effectively. Just taking it without knowing anything is unlikely to do much for you.

I've quoted the Ferrari-Rominger case before in this regard because from Ferrari's older files (1990 and before) only Rominger's stuff was ever made public. It would've been very interesting to have his figures from the Gewiss (that's 1980s Gewiss, not 1990s Gewiss, different team) Ariostea and Chateau d'Ax teams in the early days but we don't have those

The Ferrari files show Rominger won Lombardia in 1989 with a dominant performance without EPO, won Tirreno in dominant fashion in 1990 for the 2nd year in a row, without it again. Then took EPOfor the first time for the 1990 Vuelta the following month, and had a terrible performance. It didn't seem to help him at all. For the record this was a haematocrit increase from 38.8% to 48.2%

Interestingly that's by far the highest HcT recorded for Rominger for several years.
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Re:

28 Jul 2018 08:23

GuyIncognito wrote:It takes years to learn how to use a drug effectively. Just taking it without knowing anything is unlikely to do much for you.

The sentence is true, except that many who wanted to use rHuEPO didn't do so "without knowing anything". Cyclists who wanted to elevate their hematocrits very high and who had physiologists with access to the recent literature had all the necessarily know-how, because there was enough literature on rHuEPO even by 1988-1989 for the two things to have been established:

1) There was enough literature about the dosage of rHuEPO and about the time it took to produce the increase in Hct and it was also known that Hct generally increased in a dose-dependent manner. The following chart reproduced now-and-then was published as early as 1987 in the breakthrough paper published in The New England Journal of Medicine:

https://www.nejm.org/na101/home/literatum/publisher/mms/journals/content/nejm/1991/nejm_1991.324.issue-10/nejm199103073241014/production/images/img_xlarge/nejm199103073241014_f1.jpeg

Many physiologist interested in abusing rHuEPO and going through the literature must've encountered this paper and when Björn Ekblom and Bo Berglund conducted the first academic paper on rHuEPO in sports context in spring 1989, they also got the dosage right pretty easily just by looking at the already existing literature and figured out that iron shots should be administered during the treatment.

2) It was also decently well-known even in academic publications (that always figure out like a decade later what the dopers have already figured out) that it wasn't at least detrimental from performance viewpoint to increase Hct up to 55 % or 60 %. When exercise physiologist James Stray-Gundersen reviewed the issue in one of his articles in 1988, he estimated that elevating Hct up to 55 % could be beneficial and there was some material addressing this issue more directly when reinfusing multiple blood bags above 62 % showed no signs of plateau phenomenom in Vo2Max.

***

This was still the pre-Internet age and people using the product on their own didn't necessarily have access to this material. In addition, the hormone wasn't that easily available and there wasn't that much accumulated "trial-and-error"-type common knowledge about the its use by the cyclists, so people might've had incentives to take it easy with the dosage and to look what would happen. Still it is interesting that even the panic about the deaths caused by rHuEPO in the early 1990's didn't prevent cyclists from going up to 64 %, so there might've been even less incentives not to go to the "high" figures before the panic (ie. 1988-1989).
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Re: Timing of EPO in early 90's that doesn't add up..

31 Jul 2018 15:51

Aragon wrote:...and if I am not mistaken, Frankie Andreu mentioned somewhere 1996 as the "watershed" year.

Even when the story is suspicious, my recollection was sound, that Andreu had mentioned the year 1996 somewhere, and the source is an old article by Michael Shermer which has the following paragraph (the article is quoted now-and-then in forums and books etc.):
"For years I had no trouble doing my job to help the team leader," said Frankie Andreu, who was the superdomestique, or lead pacer, supporting Lance Armstrong throughout much of the 1990s. "Then, around 1996, the speeds of the races shifted dramatically upward. Something happened, and it wasn’t just training." Andreu resisted the temptation as long as he could, but by 1999 he could no longer do his job: "It became apparent to me that enough of the peloton [the main group of riders in a cycling race] was on the juice that I had to do something." He began injecting himself with r-EPO two to three times a week. "It’s not like Red Bull, which gives you instant energy," he explained. "But it does allow you to dig a little deeper, to hang on to the group a little longer, to go maybe 31.5 miles per hour instead of 30 mph."

At least a part of his recollection is suspicious, because he has later testified having started to use rHuEPO already in 1996.
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