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"Altitude Camps"...really?

Not a new thought, but I am getting bothered by how easily everyone discusses altitude camps and their effects. "Hey, such-and-such rider hasn't gone to altitude yet, they're not on top form", etc. While I realize altitude camps have some actual benefit, seems they're mostly a euphemism to get by whatever the Passport is meant to do. "Our blood values have changed because we've been at altitude for 3 weeks."

Seems like blood values have changed because y'all have been micro-dosing EPO or whatever you're doing these days. Seems patently obvious these camps are just doping with folks looking the other way.
 
Not a new thought, but I am getting bothered by how easily everyone discusses altitude camps and their effects. "Hey, such-and-such rider hasn't gone to altitude yet, they're not on top form", etc. While I realize altitude camps have some actual benefit, seems they're mostly a euphemism to get by whatever the Passport is meant to do. "Our blood values have changed because we've been at altitude for 3 weeks."

Seems like blood values have changed because y'all have been micro-dosing EPO or whatever you're doing these days. Seems patently obvious these camps are just doping with folks looking the other way.
Absolutely.
 
Not a new thought, but I am getting bothered by how easily everyone discusses altitude camps and their effects. "Hey, such-and-such rider hasn't gone to altitude yet, they're not on top form", etc. While I realize altitude camps have some actual benefit, seems they're mostly a euphemism to get by whatever the Passport is meant to do. "Our blood values have changed because we've been at altitude for 3 weeks."

Seems like blood values have changed because y'all have been micro-dosing EPO or whatever you're doing these days. Seems patently obvious these camps are just doping with folks looking the other way.
There's a few true believers in the PRR who post about altitude camps without any innuendo.

I think it's quite fine to be able to talk about how riders plan their season - with all that entails.
 
Hey, check out MVDP over there in the E3 Saxo Classic.
Guy launched a flyer with 80 k's to go, only to ease off and look back at WVA as if to say he was just kidding.
Then, at 76 km, he literally does a track stand before taking off and shedding most everyone except WVA and some movie extras.
Then, with around 45 km to go, MVDP attacks the small group at the same time his rival overcooked a corner and hit the deck.
WVA managed to claw his way back to the front before dropping everyone. The only guy standing in his way at this point was MVDP, who managed to gain more than a minute after WVA closed the gap.
It really is incredible that two riders (in this race) are head and shoulders above the rest of the best cyclists in the world. It beggars belief.
 
Hey, check out MVDP over there in the E3 Saxo Classic.
Guy launched a flyer with 80 k's to go, only to ease off and look back at WVA as if to say he was just kidding.
Then, at 76 km, he literally does a track stand before taking off and shedding most everyone except WVA and some movie extras.
Then, with around 45 km to go, MVDP attacks the small group at the same time his rival overcooked a corner and hit the deck.
WVA managed to claw his way back to the front before dropping everyone. The only guy standing in his way at this point was MVDP, who managed to gain more than a minute after WVA closed the gap.
It really is incredible that two riders (in this race) are head and shoulders above the rest of the best cyclists in the world. It beggars belief.
"Movie Extras"

Lol

The irony of Wout's altitude training is he still got killed again by golf playing VdP.
 
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What actually is the passport meant to do, anyway? How many athletes have gotten busted through it? I'm more inclined to believe the purpose of the camps is to distance oneself from testers. WRT the passport you could always just put a fake altitude tent in your sea-level bedroom. (don't have to actually sleep in it, just have it there as a prop)
 
What actually is the passport meant to do, anyway? How many athletes have gotten busted through it? I'm more inclined to believe the purpose of the camps is to distance oneself from testers. WRT the passport you could always just put a fake altitude tent in your sea-level bedroom. (don't have to actually sleep in it, just have it there as a prop)

riders must update their ADAMs system and say where they are EVERY day of the year. for example Pogacar is now in Sierra Nevada, above Granada, Spain. Visma was in Tenerife and everybody knews that. Siutsou was tested in La Orotava a few years ago (he published his testing list). La Orotava is on the north side of Teide.
it's not 2007 anymore, every rider and every tourist and every fan has a smartphone and posts pics, and every ITA/Wada guy know where riders are.
 
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riders must update their ADAMs system and say where they are EVERY day of the year. for example Pogacar is now in Sierra Nevada, above Granada, Spain. Visma was in Tenerife and everybody knews that. Siutsou was tested in La Orotava a few years ago (he published his testing list). La Orotava is on the north side of Teide.
it's not 2007 anymore, every rider and every tourist and every fan has a smartphone and posts pics, and every ITA/Wada guy know where riders are.
Right, "distance oneself" not "hide". Isn't it very hard/slow going to get to these places? The testers can't just swoop in unannounced when there's only one airport within a 10hr drive, and they won't test as frequently if the trip is expensive. (As if they want to pop Pog...)

The other explanation is, of course, to have something for the fans to cling onto when they see an 80km solo raid. "Well he just came back from altitude so of course he's flying aorund like a demigod"
 
Right, "distance oneself" not "hide". Isn't it very hard/slow going to get to these places? The testers can't just swoop in unannounced when there's only one airport within a 10hr drive, and they won't test as frequently if the trip is expensive. (As if they want to pop Pog...)

The other explanation is, of course, to have something for the fans to cling onto when they see an 80km solo raid. "Well he just came back from altitude so of course he's flying aorund like a demigod"

Sierra Nevada is very reacheable. just fly to Granada in Spain in test the riders. you say "unannounced". the testers don't wear an UCI gilet. just fly in Tenerife in the evening, and knock on the cycling teams hotel door for an early coffee during their time-slot testing window they agreed for testing.
 
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What actually is the passport meant to do, anyway? How many athletes have gotten busted through it? I'm more inclined to believe the purpose of the camps is to distance oneself from testers. WRT the passport you could always just put a fake altitude tent in your sea-level bedroom. (don't have to actually sleep in it, just have it there as a prop)
There are different modules to the ABP, e.g., hematological, steroidal & growth hormonal. Fluctuations in these markers allow for target testing - especially for OOC testing when dopers are more likely to be glowing. rEPO usage would influence the hematological module. Anabolic steroids, testosterone (T/E ratio), SARMs, etc, usage would influence the steroid module. HGH, IGF-1, growth hormone peptides (GHRP-2), etc, would influence the growth hormone module.

However, the hematological module of the ABP (and the first implementation of the ABP in 2009) was designed to detect blood transfusions which of course unlike rEPO is undetectable. In a nutshell, when a doper withdrawls blood for a later transfusion, Hct/Hgb declines & RET% increases. On the transfusion, the opposite occurs - Hct/Hgb increases & RET% declines. If enough blood samples are taken over time, then a distinct pattern can be seen particularly during the time leading up to & during competition, hence the blood "anomalies" that we hear about when a doper is banned.

In terms of a ban, the anomalies must reach a certain  Off-Score & fall under a 99.9% specificity - less than 1 in 1000 chance that the anomalies were undoped & the result of a physiological or medical condition (the UCI uses a panel of 3 anti-doping experts - usually MDs & PhDs with a background in hematology & sports medicine - to evaluate any suspicious anomalies flagged in an athlete's passport).

One of the designers of the ABP & one of the top anti-doping experts who has served on many panels of doping hearings is Dr. Olaf Schumacher. Here's a paper of his that provides an excellent introduction to hematological module of the ABP. There's examples of what different fluctuations & influence on Hct/Hgb & RET% look like with EPO/ESA usage vs blood transfusions. There's one interesting example of what the fluctuations look like with a rider using transfusions during an actual Grand Tour:


Also, here's a interesting lecture by Schumacher on the ABP in relation to professional cycling (there are representatives from some top cycling teams in the audience):

View: https://youtu.be/m38WqCxEaLk?si=-Dk9eNiaT4aU772k


Here's a list of cyclists that have been banned for hematological anomalies in their ABP (not nearly as many as in athletics):


Now if you really want to dive deep into this, here's the details & passport data from the UCI hearing on Juan Cobo's anomalies case from several years ago when he was banned & stripped of his 2011 Vuelta Espana win (Schumacher was one of the 3 anti-doping experts on the panel):

 
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There are different modules to the ABP, e.g., hematological, steroidal & growth hormonal. Fluctuations in these markers allow for target testing - especially for OOC testing when dopers are more likely to be glowing. rEPO usage would influence the hematological module. Anabolic steroids, testosterone, SARMs, etc, usage would influence the steroid module. HGH, IGF-1, growth hormone peptides (GHRP-2), etc, would influence the growth hormone module.

However, the hematological module of the ABP (and the first implementation of the ABP in 2009) was designed to detect blood transfusions which of course unlike rEPO is undetectable. In a nutshell, when a doper withdrawls blood for a later transfusion, Hct/Hgb declines & RET% increases. On the transfusion, the opposite occurs - Hct/Hgb increases & RET% declines. If enough blood samples are taken over time, then a distinct pattern can be seen particularly during the time leading up to & during competition, hence the blood "anomalies" that we hear about when a doper is banned.

In terms of a ban, the anomalies must reach a certain  Off-Score & 99.9% specificity - less than 1 in 1000 chance that the anomalies were undoped & the result of physiological or medical condition (the UCI uses a panel of 3 anti-doping experts - usually MDs & PhDs with a background in hematology & sports medicine - to evaluate the any anomalies flagged in an athlete's passport).

One of the designers of the ABP & top anti-doping experts who has served on many panels of doping hearings is Dr. Olaf Schumacher. Here's a paper of his that provides an excellent introduction to hematological module of the ABP. There's examples of what different fluctuations & influence on Hct/Hgb & RET% look like with EPO/ESA usage vs blood transfusions. There's one interesting example of what the fluctuations look like with a rider using transfusion during an actual Grand Tour:


Also, here's a interesting lecture by Schumacher on the ABP in relation to professional cycling (there are representatives from some top cycling teams in the audience):

View: https://youtu.be/m38WqCxEaLk?si=-Dk9eNiaT4aU772k


Here's a list of cyclists that have been banned for hematological anomalies in their ABP (not nearly as many as in athletics):


Now if really want to dive deep into this, here's the details of the UCI hearing on Juan Cobo's anomalies case from several years ago when he was banned & stripped of his 2009 Vuelta Espana win (Schumacher was one of the 3 anti-doping experts on the panel):

well that is certainly as thorough a response as I could have hoped for.

No cycling dopers since 2014. Splendid! edit: or perhaps no one has bothered to keep Wikipedia up to date.
 
I think you mean no ABP anomalies bans since 2014? (I believe there's been several doping positives since then...am I correct?).

I mentioned Olaf Schumacher as one of the top anti-doping experts in the field - he also has expertise in altitude's effect on the ABP. I haven't done much research in this area but Schumacher has co-authored several papers on this subject that you might find interesting.

One paper here looked at a group of highly-trained cyclists - some altitude natives - competing in a 14 day stage race over an average altitude of 8000 ft. There were increases in blood values due to hypoxia with one cyclist even reaching the 99.9% specificity level. However, as the researchers concluded this was not unexpected & the ABP would have been adjusted to account for the anomalies (i.e., no passport anomalies case ban would have been initiated).


Interestingly, I've seen some papers on altitude-native distance runners (e.g. Kenyons) that live & train at altitude year round (> 7000 ft). They have notably high Hcts but upon descending to sea level for competitions these values surprisingly drop pretty quickly to more in line with the values of sea level athletes.
 
The boosted HCT gained from altitude hypoxia drops off a bit sooner than the drop off from EPO enhanced HCT, so it seems reasonable (if one assumes doping happens) that riders would use EPO since the Biopassport can’t identify exactly how much HCT boost each individual will be expected to obtain from altitude alone. So if there really isn’t OOC testing at someplace like Teide (which would be awfully expensive and also hard for testers to come unannounced if they did go there) then I can easily imagine microdosing EPO at altitude camps to get the benefits of both.
 
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The boosted HCT gained from altitude hypoxia drops off a bit sooner than the drop off from EPO enhanced HCT, so it seems reasonable (if one assumes doping happens) that riders would use EPO since the Biopassport can’t identify exactly how much HCT boost each individual will be expected to obtain from altitude alone. So if there really isn’t OOC testing at someplace like Teide (which would be awfully expensive and also hard for testers to come unannounced if they did go there) then I can easily imagine microdosing EPO at altitude camps to get the benefits of both.

here's Siutsou's partial list of testing View: https://www.instagram.com/p/BnV218CAPdX/


you can see La Orotava (north side of Teide)
as I said before, testers don't travel with a nice UCI/WADA gilet. they could fly to Tenerife in the evening, get a hotel, and knock on the Mirador hotel doors at 6 am the following day for the riders testing time slot.
even easier if riders are in Livigno or Sierra Nevada, just drive there for the riders testing time slot
 
The boosted HCT gained from altitude hypoxia drops off a bit sooner than the drop off from EPO enhanced HCT,
The nature of the HCT boost is also different. HCT increases usually by up to 5 points or more at altitude in a few days because of plasma shift when blood becomes thicker when there is just less fluid in the veins, e.g from 40 % to 45 %.

In addition to this, there is the "real" HCT boost in the following time period when more RBCs are being produced, usually very modest in the usual 3-4 weeks athletes reside at altitude, e.g. from 45 % to 47-48%.

When the athlete returns to the sea level, the HCT drop is significant, when the amount of plasma is back to normal and the residual increase in HCT is like 2-3 points which is gone in a week-two or so. Many blood doping specialist (Lundby, Ashenden...) think that there is generally no boost in total hemoglobin in hypoxic training vs. similar training regimen at sea level.
 
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The nature of the HCT boost is also different. HCT increases usually by up to 5 points or more at altitude in a few days because of plasma shift when blood becomes thicker when there is just less fluid in the veins, e.g from 40 % to 45 %.

In addition to this, there is the "real" HCT boost in the following time period when more RBCs are being produced, usually very modest in the usual 3-4 weeks athletes reside at altitude, e.g. from 45 % to 47-48%.

When the athlete returns to the sea level, the HCT drop is significant, when the amount of plasma is back to normal and the residual increase in HCT is like 2-3 points which is gone in a week-two or so. Many blood doping specialist (Lundby, Ashenden...) think that there is generally no boost in total hemoglobin in hypoxic training vs. similar training regimen at sea level.
Interesting.
 
here's Siutsou's partial list of testing View: https://www.instagram.com/p/BnV218CAPdX/


you can see La Orotava (north side of Teide)
as I said before, testers don't travel with a nice UCI/WADA gilet. they could fly to Tenerife in the evening, get a hotel, and knock on the Mirador hotel doors at 6 am the following day for the riders testing time slot.
even easier if riders are in Livigno or Sierra Nevada, just drive there for the riders testing time slot
Thanks, good info—I will change my tune on that.
 
The nature of the HCT boost is also different. HCT increases usually by up to 5 points or more at altitude in a few days because of plasma shift when blood becomes thicker when there is just less fluid in the veins, e.g from 40 % to 45 %.

In addition to this, there is the "real" HCT boost in the following time period when more RBCs are being produced, usually very modest in the usual 3-4 weeks athletes reside at altitude, e.g. from 45 % to 47-48%.

When the athlete returns to the sea level, the HCT drop is significant, when the amount of plasma is back to normal and the residual increase in HCT is like 2-3 points which is gone in a week-two or so. Many blood doping specialist (Lundby, Ashenden...) think that there is generally no boost in total hemoglobin in hypoxic training vs. similar training regimen at sea level.
What do you think the dopers are using altitude training for? It is possible that a doper would do the withdrawl aspect of blood doping for later transfusion during a GT or something like that? With the increase of blood values at altitude, especially RET% - maybe the withdrawal wouldn't look so suspicious on the ABP?

If, OTOH, the dopers are microdosing rEPO at altitude that's really not going to be an evasion tactic since microdosing rEPO is currently not flagged on the ABP (see Ashenden's paper). And if the dopers are using bigger, more therapeutic-level doses of rEPO at altitude camps - then they run the risk of getting popped on a test (unless the riders can somehow dodge OOC testing at these camps).

Do you recall what Armstrong & Postal were doing with their blood doping procedures? Did they withdrawl blood at their altitude training camps for later transfusion at the Tour? I don't recall Armstrong taking much about this other than explaining that Postal made the decision to exclusively blood dope during the Tours after the rEPO test came out in 2000.
 
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Important to remember that Burgos-BH were only Continental level during the period of the passport anomalies so their riders were subject to National anti-doping laws and jurisdiction not International. Also Spain were non-compliant with WADA code during some of this time too I think between 2016 and 2017. Even in 2024 WADA is still finding massive shortcomings in Spain's Anti-Doping for this Olympic year and currently being investigated on several issues related to unmanaged positives, results management, legislation, legal/government interventions, delayed cases and 6 non-sanctioned ABP cases by CELAD.
I think time is running out for Spain and their continual overriding of ABP at legal/government level, put it that way.
 
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Important to remember that Burgos-BH were only Continental level during the period of the passport anomalies so their riders were subject to National anti-doping laws and jurisdiction not International. Also Spain were non-compliant with WADA code during some of this time too I think between 2016 and 2017. Even in 2024 WADA is still finding massive shortcomings in Spain's Anti-Doping for this Olympic year and currently being investigated on several issues related to unmanaged positives, results management, legislation, legal/government interventions, delayed cases and 6 non-sanctioned ABP cases by CELAD.
I think time is running out for Spain and their continual overriding of ABP at legal/government level, put it that way.
And even with Spanish agencies working to cover up or bury doping violations, several Spain-based Athletics pros have been busted.
 
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