Les Earnest, director of the United States Cycling Federation (USCF). January 1989:
Earnest later added this:A process has recently been developed for making hematopoietic hormones, which can selectively stimulate either erythrocyte (red cell) or leukocyte (white cell) development. A recent article discusses the use of these hormones for treating anemia and other disorders, but the possibility of using them to elevate the red cell count of normal individuals in order to enhance athletic performance has apparently not been tested so far.
There is evidence that having a high red cell count, brought about either through high altitude training or by blood boosting, can improve athletic performance. It seems plausible that the same effect could also be brought about by the use of the new hormones [rhEPO]. If these hormones enhance red cell count in normal individuals and have no nasty side effects, they would appear to be of potential value not only to cyclists but to some other athletes as well.
If this scheme works and is not banned by international athletic bodies, it would have the likely beneficial effect of eliminating traditional blood boosting by providing a better alternative. More research is called for to determine potential benefits and side effects. Assessment projects are underway in the USCF and USOC.
Unfortunately, the final statement above that “Assessment projects are underway in the USCF and USOC”, which was based on assurances from USCF CEO Jerry Lace, turned out to be false. I believe that if the USOC or other national or international sports organizations had investigated EPO in a timely manner and had warned athletes of likely side effects, a number of cyclists and others who used it to boost performance would not have died prematurely.