The comeback of transfusing blood

I wonder when you think the teams started doing blood transfusions (after EPO was introduced)?. Hamilton pretty much stated that US Postal started in 2000 -- I guess it was because they had heard rumors about an EPO test being on the steps, and didn't want to take any chances. And one would think the other teams would soon follow when the EPO test actually was introduced.

...but in 2006 Operacion Puerto came to light, and implicated riders from almost all of the bigger teams. One conclusion to draw from this would be that these teams didn't have an organized program for blood transfusions. But you guys might disagree? The obvious exception would of course be Kelme who had worked with Fuentes a long time, and maybe ONCE/Liberty Seguros who seemed to work with Fuentes on a more team level.

The common conception seems to be that most of these riders started working with Fuentes relatively early prior to Operacion Puerto broke. So what did they do before that? And why did really all of these people go to the same doctor?

I don't know many incidents regarding blood transfusions before Operacion Puerto (non US Postal). There is the precursor to Puerto...the confessions of Jesús Manzano who said he'd been doing autologous blood doping back in 2003. This was probably the legacy of Fuentes (as far as I know, Fuentes wasn't the team doctor at this moment), so we could guess that Kelme started a bit before then.

Another incident is a supposed phone call between Bogdan Madejak and Cofidis rider Marek Rutkiewicz before the latter was busted at the airport with "banned substances". There they talk about about "a new method" when they are referring to blood transfusions. I this this conversation was from 2003, but I'm not sure.

Then we have Tyler Hamilton and Santiago Pérez who managed to get caught for (homologous) blood transfusions. How this happened we can only wonder. But Hamilton is also linked to Fuentes. Then we have Floyd Landis, who said that he contacted Del Moral to help him with the blood doping after he quit US Postal and joined Phonak.

So What are your thoughts? When did blood transfusions start to become the doping method of choice in the bigger races? When did the teams start adopting it?
 
Feb 16, 2011
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Blood doping made its comeback in 2001 in response to the EPO test. This info, I think, comes from a few people like Manzano and Landis. It's more expensive and logistically tricky than injecting EPO vials, so only the richest pros could afford to do it properly if not part of a team-wide conspiracy or program.

Sometime after this it was discovered that microdosing EPO is undetectable and even necessary to boost reticulocyte (immature red blood cells) production - something infusing a blood bag turns off. The absence of retics is a marker for such an infusion.

fmk_Rol has posted some links to an interesting article that I think he actually wrote on some site. Do a google search for 'Riishimon' on the (I think) Cycliseme site or something. There he details that in 1996, Riis was injecting 4000 units of EPO every second day of that Tour.
 
ElChingon said:
when. did it go away?
Good question.

I think it became out of favor in the 80's as it was too risky - bad reactions, etc., with East German athletes. The rise and fall of the East German Olympic successes underscores the heyday of their programs and marks the rise and fall of a blood doping era.

The wall coming down affected the strength and funding of the Eastern bloc programs.

Periodization and other training techniques began to get introduced to Western nations in the late 70's, but setting up a sophisticated mass doping program had to wait for the migration of E German specialists over to the Freiburg clinic in Germany, the emergence of Spanish athletic superiority and the Balco lab.

Some training techniques (e.g. the Conconi test) also helped provide a simple test for doping effectivity and lead to the rise of the Italian doping Da Vincis.

In North America, cycling, athletics and pro sports were fascinated with testosterone and anabolics through this period (e.g. Carmichael's injections of 'essence of Cortisone')

EPO when it was introduced overwhelmed the need for blood doping and made high HCT easily achievable with risk factors closer to drinking orange juice.

The re-emergence of blood doping was ultimately facilitated by EPO as you could now use your own blood and micro injections and micro-extractions and infusions for higher safety and greater gains with a vastly reduced performance downside.

Dave.
 
What about speed skating, where exciting new records were set towards the end of the rigid skate era, particularly the 1988 Calgary games?
Early EPO, or revived blood doping schemes promoted by having to train at sea level for a mile high tournament?
 
Jun 12, 2010
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MrRoboto said:
Then we have Tyler Hamilton and Santiago Pérez who managed to get caught for (homologous) blood transfusions. How this happened we can only wonder.
I take it Hamilton has never talked about this?

Any word on if he has a book deal?
 
Mar 10, 2009
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hrotha said:
Of course it did. EPO was a much easier and convenient way to manipulate your blood values, and blood transfusions in the 80s weren't logistically practical for stage races.
You think after a hard mountain stage and another the next that EPO alone is good enough? Hate to break it to you but a fresh batch of blood beats it. And there's a local clinc in each town/village that could hold it or administer it.
 
ElChingon said:
You think after a hard mountain stage and another the next that EPO alone is good enough? Hate to break it to you but a fresh batch of blood beats it. And there's a local clinc in each town/village that could hold it or administer it.
What's wrong with team busses, hotel rooms and private jets?
 
ElChingon said:
You think after a hard mountain stage and another the next that EPO alone is good enough? Hate to break it to you but a fresh batch of blood beats it. And there's a local clinc in each town/village that could hold it or administer it.
EPO could be taken daily to keep your hematocrit consistently high during your session peaks. So yes, it was better than transfusions.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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hrotha said:
EPO could be taken daily to keep your hematocrit consistently high during your session peaks. So yes, it was better than transfusions.
EPO doesn't equate to instant fully developed Red Blood Cells ready to carry O2 at full potential
 
ElChingon said:
EPO doesn't equate to instant fully developed Red Blood Cells ready to carry O2 at full potential
Of course not, but that's not the way it was taken either. They didn't let their hematocrit drop in the first place. Daily shots, including before the race you were preparing for.
 

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