In Blood Stepped: The History Of Blood Doping In Sport

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Fast news cycle can lead people to accept a lot of material at face value whereas confirmation bias can cause overly critical approach towards "unfavourable" opinions and findings.

It reminds me of the study involving rHuEPO and Kenyans published a few months ago where there was a huge improvement in speed even four weeks after the treatment had ended when there was still a small surplus of RBCs.

https://mobile.twitter.com/Scienceofsport/status/1038043037480435712

If one reads the study, Vo2Max of the subjects was elevated only statistically insignificantly 3.1 % at that time whereas speed was 3.4 % faster, which is an enormous and statistically significant speed improvement, largests of all blood doping studies. So simultaneously there was so miniscule elevation in the amount of RBCs to barely elevate Vo2Max, but still enough to increase actual speed to render it to be a "high end study" in this regard.

Needles to say, no control group, and even the authors speculate about placebo effect and notice that the subjects themselves self-reported that they had put more effort into the test runs they did under rHuEPO (ie. higher RPE).
 
Aug 18, 2017
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fmk_RoI said:
A Q came up recently elsewhere about the current prevalance of blood doping, in light of on going research projects into new detection methods. A new Danish study from the Department of Sport and Nutrition at the University of Copenhagen suggests that micro-transfusions could be offering noticeable performance gains:
A new Danish study shows that micro blood doping (only 135 ml) can increase the performance by up to nearly five percent. First time studying such small doses. Very worrying reading as it will be almost impossible to detect.
Article (in Danish)
http://sport.tv2.dk/2018-12-05-chokerende-dansk-forskning-lille-maengde-bloddoping-kan-give-stor-forbedring
 
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Tim Booth said:
fmk_RoI said:
A Q came up recently elsewhere about the current prevalance of blood doping, in light of on going research projects into new detection methods. A new Danish study from the Department of Sport and Nutrition at the University of Copenhagen suggests that micro-transfusions could be offering noticeable performance gains:
A new Danish study shows that micro blood doping (only 135 ml) can increase the performance by up to nearly five percent. First time studying such small doses. Very worrying reading as it will be almost impossible to detect.
Article (in Danish)
http://sport.tv2.dk/2018-12-05-chokerende-dansk-forskning-lille-maengde-bloddoping-kan-give-stor-forbedring
Thank you, I really wish I'd posted that. Oh, hang on a moment, I did. Thank me!
 
Aug 18, 2017
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fmk_RoI said:
Tim Booth said:
fmk_RoI said:
A Q came up recently elsewhere about the current prevalance of blood doping, in light of on going research projects into new detection methods. A new Danish study from the Department of Sport and Nutrition at the University of Copenhagen suggests that micro-transfusions could be offering noticeable performance gains:
A new Danish study shows that micro blood doping (only 135 ml) can increase the performance by up to nearly five percent. First time studying such small doses. Very worrying reading as it will be almost impossible to detect.
Article (in Danish)
http://sport.tv2.dk/2018-12-05-chokerende-dansk-forskning-lille-maengde-bloddoping-kan-give-stor-forbedring
Thank you, I really wish I'd posted that. Oh, hang on a moment, I did. Thank me!
sorry - didn't notice that 'Twitter' was a link :eek:
 
Re: Re:

Tim Booth said:
fmk_RoI said:
Tim Booth said:
fmk_RoI said:
A Q came up recently elsewhere about the current prevalance of blood doping, in light of on going research projects into new detection methods. A new Danish study from the Department of Sport and Nutrition at the University of Copenhagen suggests that micro-transfusions could be offering noticeable performance gains:
A new Danish study shows that micro blood doping (only 135 ml) can increase the performance by up to nearly five percent. First time studying such small doses. Very worrying reading as it will be almost impossible to detect.
Article (in Danish)
http://sport.tv2.dk/2018-12-05-chokerende-dansk-forskning-lille-maengde-bloddoping-kan-give-stor-forbedring
Thank you, I really wish I'd posted that. Oh, hang on a moment, I did. Thank me!
sorry - didn't notice that 'Twitter' was a link :eek:
It wasn't. The Danish link was. The Twitter link was in an entirely different post. Still, can't expect people to read a whole post. Or an article, for that matter.
 
Jun 27, 2013
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Re: Re:

Tim Booth said:
fmk_RoI said:
A Q came up recently elsewhere about the current prevalance of blood doping, in light of on going research projects into new detection methods. A new Danish study from the Department of Sport and Nutrition at the University of Copenhagen suggests that micro-transfusions could be offering noticeable performance gains:
A new Danish study shows that micro blood doping (only 135 ml) can increase the performance by up to nearly five percent. First time studying such small doses. Very worrying reading as it will be almost impossible to detect.
Article (in Danish)
http://sport.tv2.dk/2018-12-05-chokerende-dansk-forskning-lille-maengde-bloddoping-kan-give-stor-forbedring
Cool! Thanks for sharing
 
Rasmussen on the new brouhaha over the two-year-old thesis:
It costs about 20 euros to acquire five blood bags by mail order, and it takes about 15 minutes to blood dope yourself. It is neither expensive nor complicated. Blood doping just requires a refrigerator, a courier that can ship the blood bag from A to B, and maybe another room in the rider's hotel on a different floor than the rest of the team, so that you can do it.
Danish link

The short version is the usual I did it ergo anyone can do it (but maybe not that donkey Riccò) and everyone is doing it. He notes that the performance gain is likely overstated for pros (likely? ya don't say!). He seems to think the paper tested whether the ABP could detect the transfusions when it did no such thing.

Oh yeah, and blod doping was invented in 1972.
 
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This is a mea culpa-moment from my part for not doublechecking the information about the 2016 thesis before bringing it up and claiming that it is the same study as the 2018 paper.

It might be exactly the same experiment or the 2018 paper with some extra material added, and the two are clearly related, because some researchers such as Solheim and Bejder had some input in both of the papers and the protocol is almost exactly the same one. But from the small tidbits published about the 2018 study here and there, the data is slightly different even when the key findings remain the same.

I think that the key problem with the 135 ml experiments is the fact that the participants most likely were still heavily anemic during the infusion, because nobody can recover in 3-4 weeks fully from anemia caused by donation of 900 millilitres of blood. In the 2016 thesis, total hemoglobin mass was still on average 4 percent lower than the baseline level just before reinfusion (804.1 g vs 837.4 g) and hematocrit was still lower compared to baseline 24 hours after transfusion (41.8 % vs 43.8 %) even when THb wasn't measured at this point.

So the 135 ml infusion experiment most likely isn't an inquiry about a small secondary polycythemia per se but only about how well relative anemic body reacts if it becomes slightly less anemic via small blood infusion.
 
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I should try to obtain the actual paper and quote from it, but one quite reliable poster of the Letsrun.com-forum claims that he has read the paper and my gut feeling was pretty right, because the hemoglobin concentrations of the transfusions groups were following according to him:

15.0 g/dl [before blood donation]
14.1 g/dl [before first reinfusion]
14.6 g/dl [after microinfusion]
15.5 g/dl [after larger infusion]

Summa summarum: there could've been improvement in performance from 14.1 to 14.6, but this increase wasn't elevation of hemoglobin level above normal levels but only recovery from anemia. Correspondingly it doesn't mean that body could've used as effectively the extra 135 ml of RBCs if a "normal" 15.0 g/dl body would've obtained them via transfusion.
 
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I went through the study and it indeed has the weakness that the 4.7 % improvement in mean power output after the 135 ml infusion takes place when the hemoglobin concentration increases from very anemic to anemic (14.1 g/dl -> 14.6 g/dl) (see chart, Watts = index number, pre-infusion = 100). When the subjects are given additional 235 millilitres of blood and increase their hemoglobin count by further 6.2 % to 15.5 g/dl and surpassing their natural value of 15.0 g/dl and developing "secondary polycythemia", their mean power output increases only by 0.9 %. The authors write that "the changes in time trial mean power and time to completion following the combined transfusions were not different from those obtained following the low-volume transfusion".


("Anemia", "Normal" etc. are only in the context of the mean natural value of 15.0 g/dl)

What the media outlets leave also easily out is that the authors were fully aware of the limitations, writing that ”the transfusion was a mix of replacing the lost cells and adding additional” and following this ”t may be speculated that the initial normalization of the blood volume is contributing the most to the performance enhancing effect while the additional increase in blood volume contributes less”.
 
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Here is an announcement related to the topic.

For those interested in the history of blood doping, roughly a year ago I interviewed and corresponded with Dr. Björn Ekblom ("that guy", the "inventor" of blood doping) on a few occasions and based heavily on that material, wrote a c:a 40,000 word essay on the origins of blood doping research at GIH that took place between 1966 and around 1980 (the additional bibliography runs some 200 sources). I think there is at least some new material on why the method was "invented" and its relation to the 1968 México City olympics etc.

I originally had a vague mutual understanding with one website that they would publish the essay, but because I forwarded them the first draft some six months ago and because the editing process from their part has been really super-slow and their input mostly correcting grammatical errors here-and-there, I've planned to publish it as a PDF-file on my own and provide the link here for the CN-readers time in the future.
 
Björn Ekblom recalls his 1964 study on Easter Island
https://www.gih.se/OM-GIH/Aktuellt/Nu-och-da/Professor-Bjorn-Ekblom/
Ett av de roligaste forskningsprojekt jag gjort var på Påskön 1964. Då hade de ingen kontakt med fastlandet, det fanns inga pengar och allting präglades av en fridsam lunk. Jag testade 220 personer, vilket var drygt hälften av den vuxna befolkningen. De fick göra konditionstest på testcykel. Jag gav tvålar som betalning för det var hårdvaluta där och många stod i kö för att vara med. Ju mer de tog ut sig ju fler tvålar fick de betalt. De visade sig ha urdålig kondition - för de levde ett behagligt liv och behövde inte göra något alltför arbetsamt.
One of the most fun research projects I did was on Easter Island in 1964. Then they had no contact with the mainland, there was no money and everything was characterized by a peaceful calm. I tested 220 people, which was just over half of the adult population. They had to do fitness tests on a test cycle. I gave soaps as payment because it was hard currency there and many stood in line to join. The more they took out the more soaps they got paid. They turned out to have a really bad condition - because they lived a pleasant life and did not have to do anything too hard.
:D
 
Jun 16, 2015
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Good stuff indeed but I'd like to know who did what and when, like were the middle distance athletes - Coe, Cram etc - blood doping in the 80s? What was the likelihood of that happening? I've heard Coe's trainer father was known for his leading edge training techniques but did that inlcude transfusions?

We don't seem to know so much about the actual application. Even Viren's case seems equivocal.
 
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While the essay is occasionally soporific and repetitive, I think the introduction gives a pretty good indication what one should expect when reading it. And as the introduction states, it isn't an exposé of blood doping practices but only about the paradigm shift that took place between mid-1960s and mid-1980s about thinking what actually limits Vo2Max.

There are some bits and pieces relating to the blood doping practices, but these instances are still more related to the scientific research and to the flow of information from the GIH than about individual athletes. For those interested, I still hope there is some information for people to try to estimate the prevalence of the use particularly when they add that information into what they know by other means.

While I do know a handful of blood dopers never "confirmed" in the media, in the end my knowledge about the praxis of blood doping isn't by a magnitude above an average CN-reader.
 
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Website Fasterskier has serialised the Ekblom/blood doping - genesis essay. Unfortunately the footnote system (added just into the text) of the first part makes the text heavy to read, but the second one looks more readable.

https://fasterskier.com/fsarticle/limiting-factors-a-genesis-of-blood-doping/

https://fasterskier.com/fsarticle/limiting-factors-a-genesis-of-blood-doping-part-two/

There is barely nothing sensational material, but some interesting items, e.g. MD Bengt Saltin discussed in 1965 during the preolympics seriously the option of administering transfusions to Swedish athletes for the 1968 high altitude games.
 
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Because there are many rumours surrounding the possible use of blood doping before it was officially invented in the early 1970s, here is one example of an news item that might've confused readers to think that blood doping was going on when it wasn't.

In an Aftonbladet - article written during the 1970 Tour de France (7/13/1970), Swedish journalist Thorleif Håwi interviews the Swedish cyclist Gösta "Fåglum" Pettersson who is lying on the bed and getting some liquid into his veins through needle lamenting about his very low hemoglobin concentration, which is significantly lower than that of Merckx and his competitors . The large text says in English the following: "Without drip I couldn't cope. With lousy blood values, one feels like a pensioner on a bike."

What is going on here?

Well, the actual liquid is sugar solution (with iron, according to some sources), but it is easy to see that these sort of items could've led to some blood doping speculation years later when people recalled seeing the articles even when nothing of the sort was going on.
 
That Gösta Pettersson story is also relevant to the infamous Nencini myth and the story put forward earlier in this thread about Gimondi in either 1973 or 1975 at either the World Championships or the Tour de France, being caught banging in a bag of blood in his hotel room by a couple of journalists.
 
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The Nencini myth might have origins in a similar type of situation, no doubt about that.

And just to clarify that I haven't seen anyone accusing Gösta Pettersson of blood doping, but one can easily imagine situations like that causing some misreading of what really happened when dehydrated/anemic cyclists were treated with saline/sugar solution infusions, iron and B12 shots etc. and the stories evolved from person-to-person and language-to-language when descriptions of the incident spread in the second hand gossip.
 

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