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

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red_flanders said:
My baseline is 46%, I'm in now way an exceptional or even excellent athlete. I might be reading the studies wrong but it certainly seems from many of them that subjects had elevations in HcT that would easily push many of the participants at my level or lower into the 52% range. Not on average, but many of the subjects well exceeded the numbers necessary, no?

Honest question, I'm not sure I'm reading it correctly.
In the table you cite, there were eight studies referred to, five of which showed mean increases of HT of < 4%. The other three studies showed higher increases, but I don't even know if I trust them, as one of the studies, the last one by Kim, is clearly wrong, with an increase reported that is higher than any natural HT would be. (I haven't been able to find that study, nor the other two that reported high values.)

If you look at the other four links I posted, three of them are studies showing very small and generally insignificant changes in HT. The other paper, another meta-analysis, reports HT values around 50% at the Mexico City altitude, but these are for people living in those locations, not people who temporarily moved to that altitude.

I don't know what Eddy's natural HT was, but unless it was in the upper 40s, I wouldn't expect based on these data that reaching 52% would be very realistic. Again, if it's possible to raise HT that much by altitude training, why wouldn't more cyclists do it, and how would they explain this to the passport controls, when an increase of 2-3% above the baseline generally triggers a red flag? Micro-dosing EPO, as a way of avoiding a positive, generally doesn't raise HT more than this. If you can double that increase, and all legally, why not do it?
 
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[In the table you cite, there were eight studies referred to, five of which showed mean increases of HT of < 4%. The other three studies showed higher increases, but I don't even know if I trust them, as one of the studies, the last one by Kim, is clearly wrong...]

I don't understand how that Kim study could be included in such a so-called meta-analysis of 8 experiments. With results so far outside the mean of the 7 other tests, should it not have been excluded outright?
 
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Merckx index said:
red_flanders said:
My baseline is 46%, I'm in now way an exceptional or even excellent athlete. I might be reading the studies wrong but it certainly seems from many of them that subjects had elevations in HcT that would easily push many of the participants at my level or lower into the 52% range. Not on average, but many of the subjects well exceeded the numbers necessary, no?

Honest question, I'm not sure I'm reading it correctly.
In the table you cite, there were eight studies referred to, five of which showed mean increases of HT of < 4%. The other three studies showed higher increases, but I don't even know if I trust them, as one of the studies, the last one by Kim, is clearly wrong, with an increase reported that is higher than any natural HT would be. (I haven't been able to find that study, nor the other two that reported high values.)

If you look at the other four links I posted, three of them are studies showing very small and generally insignificant changes in HT. The other paper, another meta-analysis, reports HT values around 50% at the Mexico City altitude, but these are for people living in those locations, not people who temporarily moved to that altitude.

I don't know what Eddy's natural HT was, but unless it was in the upper 40s, I wouldn't expect based on these data that reaching 52% would be very realistic. Again, if it's possible to raise HT that much by altitude training, why wouldn't more cyclists do it, and how would they explain this to the passport controls, when an increase of 2-3% above the baseline generally triggers a red flag? Micro-dosing EPO, as a way of avoiding a positive, generally doesn't raise HT more than this. If you can double that increase, and all legally, why not do it?
Thanks, I think I'm reading it correctly then. I was simply suggesting it was possible for a single rider (Merckx) to get above 52% if they had a baseline in the mid 40's, which seems possible. I'm not suggesting it's useful now with bio-passport, as I don't understand all those details. But based on what I'm seeing, it would have been possible for Merckx to do it at altitude. Doesn't mean he did.
 
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Merckx index said:
Wild guess, but altitude probably isn't going to get Eddie to 52%
Probably? If you make an evidence-free assumption of his baseline HCT.

I think you would also have to assume that he did actually get to the targeted HCT: were there any papers from Mexico that showed whether he did or not, Aragon? All I recall is the number being a target, not the target being met. (And I'm with Aragon on the real relevance of the anecdote.)

So, assumption heaped upon assumption. Yes. Probably. Definitely.
 
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I have no slightest idea about 1) how crucial the 52 % was seen from performsnce viewpoint 2) whether Merckx ever reached it or 3) what was his natural Hct.

Perhaps Joel Godaert (the man or his Merckx-bio) or Eddy Merckx himself are the only ones in addition to the physiologist who came up with the figure who know the truth about the matter.

While it is certainly true that hypoxic/hypobaric training elicits only minor and slow increases in total hb, there are documented increases in hematocrit up to 6 percentage points in Bengt Saltin's preolympics data from 1965 induced by only 20 day residence in Mexico City.
 
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Considering that even pretty meaningless parameters were reported about Merckx, it is quite likely that if his base Hct had been even slightly unusual it would have been reported.
For example wiki gives this info :
Durant sa carrière, Eddy Merckx mesure 1,84 m pour un poids variant de 69 kg (à la fin du Tour de France 1969) à 72 kg, jusqu'à 74 kg hors Tour de France et 81 kg à l'intersaison. Son pouls est de 38 à 44 battements par minute, sa capacité pulmonaire est de 6,6 l et son volume cardiaque de 1 600 cm3
A resting heartbeat of 38 bpm or a lung capacity of 6.6 liters (for a 72 kg athlete) are quite typical, not remarquable.
 
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Aragon said:
...
While it is certainly true that hypoxic/hypobaric training elicits only minor and slow increases in total hb, there are documented increases in hematocrit up to 6 percentage points in Bengt Saltin's preolympics data from 1965 induced by only 20 day residence in Mexico City.
Does that point need to be raised considering that Merckx attempt occurred on his 3rd day at altitude?
Also, the 1965 Saltin result is way out of line wrt the more common 1% increase per week at 3000 m or higher.
 
Re: Re:

Le breton said:
quote]You can assume what you like. Clearly, you do. Me, I prefer evidence

See the 1998 Copenhagen study by Bengt Saltin and coworkers at Chacaltaya.
Actual race results and performances are also evidence. Evidence is not limited to lab studies. Frankly I don't have time to read and follow all that. Can someone also explain why are we wasting our time looking at Merckx? In Merckx's day they climbed the Alpe D'Huez in about 48 minutes. Any doping then was primitive.
 
Another point about that table that RF posted from one of my links: When i first saw it, it wasn't clear to me whether the values given for increases were as HT increases, or % HT increases. E.g., a 7% increase could mean going from 45 to 52, but it could also mean going from 45 to 48 (48 is 7% more than 45).

i see this issue in the paper Breton posted. Table 1 in this paper cites two studies in which HT increased, in one case by 4.6%, and in the other by 4.4%. But those are not HT units; they are increases as a % of the baseline HT value. In the study reporting a 4.6% increase, the actual increase was was from 45.5 to 47.7 (and even worse, and not discussed by the author of this study, nor by the author citing this study, the same increase was observed in the control group). In the second study, the increase was 41.0 to 42.8. This second study is actually one of those I posted upthread.

There was one other study in the Breton link which reported a HT increase, from 44 to 47. The other studies reported which analyzed HT found no change.
 
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Le breton said:
...Merckx attempt occurred on his 3rd day at altitude?
Also, the 1965 Saltin result is way out of line wrt the more common 1% increase per week at 3000 m or higher.
The guys who consulted Merckx could not have had the slightest knowledge about "the more common 1% increase per week at 3000 m or higher", but instead at most took a look into the pre-existing data.

Physiologist R.J. Shephard concluded around that time from this data (by Saltin, Asahina, Buskirk and some others) that most Hb-level (c:a +10 %) and Hct (c:a+ 4 % points) increase at altitude took place during the first week. Perhaps Merckx spent only a few days at "real" altitude, but he had some type of hypoxic conditioning training regimen before his attempt (garage hypoxic training), and once again, his team wasn't necessarily interested to create a program that increased total hemoglobin by a significant amount, but only to elevate hematocrit to a certain level via hypoxic conditioning.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1859272/pdf/brjsmed00280-0039.pdf

Here is one source about Merckx's hematocrit, the man himself. I'd find the figure very suspicious if he was defending himself in this dicussion now-and-here, but he appears to have just stated it with no instrumental value in his mind:
"I had the honour to interview Eddy 14 hours," Vansevenant said. "Eddy gave me a unique insight into his life. He looked back on his childhood and career, how he became the Cannibal"..
...
Vansevenant said Merckx told him he had a haematocrit level close to 50.
http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/new-eddy-merckx-biography-unveiled-in-brussels/
 
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Replying to Aragon.
I have trouble using the "Reply with quote", so I copy/paste via word.
The guys who consulted Merckx could not have had the slightest knowledge about "the more common 1% increase per week at 3000 m or higher", but instead at most took a look into the pre-existing data.
Obviously, but we can use today’s knowledge to understand the past.

Physiologist R.J. Shephard concluded around that time from this data (by Saltin, Asahina, Buskirk and some others) that most Hb-level (c:a +10 %) and Hct (c:a+ 4 % points) increase at altitude took place during the first week
Merckx successful hour ride was on his 3rd day.
. Perhaps Merckx spent only a few days at "real" altitude, but he had some type of hypoxic conditioning training regimen before his attempt (garage hypoxic training), and once again, his team wasn't necessarily interested to create a program that increased total hemoglobin by a significant amount, but only to elevate hematocrit to a certain level via hypoxic conditioning.
As the reference I gave yesterday ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5904371/) makes clear, such programs are ineffective concerning the hematocrit.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1859272/pdf/brjsmed00280-0039.pdf
Thanks for the reference.

Here is one source about Merckx's hematocrit, the man himself. I'd find the figure very suspicious if he was defending himself in this dicussion now-and-here, but he appears to have just stated it with no instrumental value in his mind:
"I had the honour to interview Eddy 14 hours," Vansevenant said. "Eddy gave me a unique insight into his life. He looked back on his childhood and career, how he became the Cannibal"..
...
Vansevenant said Merckx told him he had a haematocrit level close to 50.
http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/new-eddy-merckx-biography-unveiled-in-brussels/

Many thanks. Nice to have a value for Eddy’s Hct.
 
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Yes, one one can give some type of assessment about the effectiveness of Merkcx's approach with modern knowledge and to estimate what went right and wrong. But it doesn't tell anything about what factors contributing into the decision making process of Merckx's coaches after transfusion wasn't (apparently) used nor what they expected from the prospects of the intermittent hypoxic training nor gave them tools how to interpret the data they had if they monitored Merckx's blood values.

The consensus view is that his approach isn't considered a good one, and it was either Jim Stray-Gundersen or Mike Ashenden who described the Merckx-type live low/train high - approach as something like "the worst of two worlds".

In the end, don't know how much his total hemoglobin increased (most likely negligibly) nor how much his hematocrit increased due to plasma shift plus the miniscule increase in total Hb (most likely more than negligibly). He had hypoxic exposure before his México trip and in the review by R.J. Shephard, most increase in Hct took place during the first week, not that seven days was needed. In Saltin's data, it was literally a day or two and here is what your review states:
It should be noted that the blood volume (BV) adjustments during acclimatization to altitude have two phases. In the early phase, which begins within hours of altitude exposure and lasts for the first 3–4 weeks, plasma volume (PV) decreases, causing hemoconcentration.
...
Changes in BV during and after hypoxic exposure can cause errors in interpretation of research results and evaluation of the actual effects of altitude training may be impeded. Hemoconcentration may explain the increase in hematological variables, especially in the early days of altitude training.
 
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Merckx index said:
Another point about that table that RF posted from one of my links: When i first saw it, it wasn't clear to me whether the values given for increases were as HT increases, or % HT increases. E.g., a 7% increase could mean going from 45 to 52, but it could also mean going from 45 to 48 (48 is 7% more than 45).

i see this issue in the paper Breton posted. Table 1 in this paper cites two studies in which HT increased, in one case by 4.6%, and in the other by 4.4%. But those are not HT units; they are increases as a % of the baseline HT value. In the study reporting a 4.6% increase, the actual increase was was from 45.5 to 47.7 (and even worse, and not discussed by the author of this study, nor by the author citing this study, the same increase was observed in the control group). In the second study, the increase was 41.0 to 42.8. This second study is actually one of those I posted upthread.

There was one other study in the Breton link which reported a HT increase, from 44 to 47. The other studies reported which analyzed HT found no change.
The Stray-Gundersen et al study you posted (41.0 to 42.8) was done with elite runners at 2500m (LHTH). There's another good study done with a combination of elite & well-trained runners living at 1800m but training at altitudes of 1700 to 2200m for 3 weeks (LHTH). Baseline Hct for the altitude group was 44.2 vs 42.4 for a near sea level control group living @ 600m (~4.2%). A small change in Hct for the altitude group after the 3 week training block was ~2.4% (44.2 - 45.3) with a non-significant change in RET%.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4424472/
 
Re: Re:

Cookster15 said:
Can someone also explain why are we wasting our time looking at Merckx?
1) You can't say "This performance is the product of EPO!" if, at that same time, blood transfusions were being used and could be an alternative explanation (eg Roche '87, especially in light of Visentini's claims)

2) A reasonably well known anecdote about Merckx being offered a transfusion for his Mexico Hour in 1972 was used as proof that he had used a transfusion in 1972, which is something he denied in the original anecdote. While this is totes off-topic to the EPO debate and has already been discussed on the blood doping thread.

3) The Merckx anecdote is relevant in that it shows how far the understanding of benefits of O2 vector doping has changed.

4) The relevance of scientific studies conducted three decades after Merck's Hour ride further shows much much the understanding of O2 vector doping has come.
 
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Cookster15 said:
Le breton said:
quote]You can assume what you like. Clearly, you do. Me, I prefer evidence

See the 1998 Copenhagen study by Bengt Saltin and coworkers at Chacaltaya.
Actual race results and performances are also evidence. Evidence is not limited to lab studies. Frankly I don't have time to read and follow all that. Can someone also explain why are we wasting our time looking at Merckx? In Merckx's day they climbed the Alpe D'Huez in about 48 minutes. Any doping then was primitive.
Alpe d'Huez (AdH) was a bit neglected in Merckx' days.
However, ~20 years earlier, in 1952, Coppi climbed it in 45 minutes after a long long stage.
Using Ventoux as a proxy for AdH, we know that Gaul climbed it in 1:02:09 in 1958
while in 1987 - starting from Carpentras about 20 min earlier - Jeff Bernard climbed it in 58:08 ( a handful of seconds faster than Herrera).
Considering that as far as I know Merckx climbed Ventoux in about 1 hour on one occasion (I don't have the exact time) while on AdH in his best years Herrera needed less than 42 min on at least one occasion, I tend to think that 48 min for Merckx would have been very slow.
 
Re: Re:

Le breton said:
Cookster15 said:
Le breton said:
quote]You can assume what you like. Clearly, you do. Me, I prefer evidence

See the 1998 Copenhagen study by Bengt Saltin and coworkers at Chacaltaya.
Actual race results and performances are also evidence. Evidence is not limited to lab studies. Frankly I don't have time to read and follow all that. Can someone also explain why are we wasting our time looking at Merckx? In Merckx's day they climbed the Alpe D'Huez in about 48 minutes. Any doping then was primitive.
Alpe d'Huez (AdH) was a bit neglected in Merckx' days.
However, ~20 years earlier, in 1952, Coppi climbed it in 45 minutes after a long long stage.
Using Ventoux as a proxy for AdH, we know that Gaul climbed it in 1:02:09 in 1958
while in 1987 - starting from Carpentras about 20 min earlier - Jeff Bernard climbed it in 58:08 ( a handful of seconds faster than Herrera).
Considering that as far as I know Merckx climbed Ventoux in about 1 hour on one occasion (I don't have the exact time) while on AdH in his best years Herrera needed less than 42 min on at least one occasion, I tend to think that 48 min for Merckx would have been very slow.
Are any of those times verified including where they were times from and to?

As far as I know the "top 100" list is the best source.

http://www.climbing-records.com/2013/07/all-time-top-100-fastest-rides-on.html

Any blood doping in Merckx' days had relatively minor boost compared to full blown EPO of the 90s. This is an easy subject that does not require over analysis. EPO became widespead in the peloton by 1991 until the advent of the EPO test developed for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. This is when transfusions and micro dosing took over but the boost wasn't quite the same. Actual race results and performances make this very obvious as does the additional evidence of rider testimonials and others on the inside - including last year's TdF. On AdH also consider Sky drove from the bottom to the top to the finish to nullify any attacks from rival climbers. The time? 41:30. In the 90s sub 38 minutes was a doddle. On heavier less aero bikes too.
 
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Cookster15 said:
This is an easy subject that does not require over analysis. EPO became widespead in the peloton by 1991 until the advent of the EPO test developed for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. This is when transfusions and micro dosing took over but the boost wasn't quite the same...
The problem with this reasoning is that the no start rule had a larger impact on individual's capability to elevate hematocrit high than any rHuEPO test, because the added extra RBCs don't care whether they came from bone marrow or from a plastic bag and with transfusion it was possible to 50 % and beyond.

In this light the year 1997 is more important than 2000 or 2001, because mr. 60%s were gone for good when the "no start rule" was implemented and this should've had an impact on the Alde d'Huez times if "oxygen vector doping" is the end of the story.
 
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Aragon said:
Cookster15 said:
This is an easy subject that does not require over analysis. EPO became widespead in the peloton by 1991 until the advent of the EPO test developed for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. This is when transfusions and micro dosing took over but the boost wasn't quite the same...
The problem with this reasoning is that the no start rule had a larger impact on individual's capability to elevate hematocrit high than any rHuEPO test, because the added extra RBCs don't care whether they came from bone marrow or from a plastic bag and with transfusion it was possible to 50 % and beyond.

In this light the year 1997 is more important than 2000 or 2001, because mr. 60%s were gone for good when the "no start rule" was implemented and this should've had an impact on the Alde d'Huez times if "oxygen vector doping" is the end of the story.
Agreed. The other issue with this statement is the bolded. Armstrong's testimony about blood doping (and frankly his incredible domination) in the 2000 Tour strongly suggests that the boost was as strong or stronger than what they'd been getting with EPO. Hamilton's testimony backs this up as well.
 
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red_flanders said:
Aragon said:
Cookster15 said:
This is an easy subject that does not require over analysis. EPO became widespead in the peloton by 1991 until the advent of the EPO test developed for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. This is when transfusions and micro dosing took over but the boost wasn't quite the same...
The problem with this reasoning is that the no start rule had a larger impact on individual's capability to elevate hematocrit high than any rHuEPO test, because the added extra RBCs don't care whether they came from bone marrow or from a plastic bag and with transfusion it was possible to 50 % and beyond.

In this light the year 1997 is more important than 2000 or 2001, because mr. 60%s were gone for good when the "no start rule" was implemented and this should've had an impact on the Alde d'Huez times if "oxygen vector doping" is the end of the story.
Agreed. The other issue with this statement is the bolded. Armstrong's testimony about blood doping (and frankly his incredible domination) in the 2000 Tour strongly suggests that the boost was as strong or stronger than what they'd been getting with EPO. Hamilton's testimony backs this up as well.
Fair enough. But Hamilton also said Cadel Evans was clean ;) . Anyhow, isn't this thread getting off topic? The topic is when did EPO start being used not a discussion of when O2 vector doping started that is of course a much wider scope.
 
Re: Re:

Cookster15 said:
red_flanders said:
Aragon said:
Cookster15 said:
This is an easy subject that does not require over analysis. EPO became widespead in the peloton by 1991 until the advent of the EPO test developed for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. This is when transfusions and micro dosing took over but the boost wasn't quite the same...
The problem with this reasoning is that the no start rule had a larger impact on individual's capability to elevate hematocrit high than any rHuEPO test, because the added extra RBCs don't care whether they came from bone marrow or from a plastic bag and with transfusion it was possible to 50 % and beyond.

In this light the year 1997 is more important than 2000 or 2001, because mr. 60%s were gone for good when the "no start rule" was implemented and this should've had an impact on the Alde d'Huez times if "oxygen vector doping" is the end of the story.
Agreed. The other issue with this statement is the bolded. Armstrong's testimony about blood doping (and frankly his incredible domination) in the 2000 Tour strongly suggests that the boost was as strong or stronger than what they'd been getting with EPO. Hamilton's testimony backs this up as well.
Fair enough. But Hamilton also said Cadel Evans was clean ;) . Anyhow, isn't this thread getting off topic? The topic is when did EPO start being used not a discussion of when O2 vector doping started that is of course a much wider scope.
You made a comment about EPO and blood doping to which I responded, I think we're good.

I also think we can rather easily separate Hamilton's detailed and compelling personal account of what he did from his offhand speculation about what other riders might have done.
 
Re: Re:

Cookster15 said:
Anyhow, isn't this thread getting off topic? The topic is when did EPO start being used not a discussion of when O2 vector doping started that is of course a much wider scope.
To repeat my reply from the last time you asked this question: no.
You can't say "This performance is the product of EPO!" if, at that same time, blood transfusions were being used and could be an alternative explanation (eg Roche '87, especially in light of Visentini's claims)
We know transfusions were in use in the 80s so we know that some performances that 'look' like the start of EPO use could have an alternative explanation. Unless you want to argue that transfusions don't work...
 
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fmk_RoI said:
Cookster15 said:
Anyhow, isn't this thread getting off topic? The topic is when did EPO start being used not a discussion of when O2 vector doping started that is of course a much wider scope.
To repeat my reply from the last time you asked this question: no.
You can't say "This performance is the product of EPO!" if, at that same time, blood transfusions were being used and could be an alternative explanation (eg Roche '87, especially in light of Visentini's claims)
We know transfusions were in use in the 80s so we know that some performances that 'look' like the start of EPO use could have an alternative explanation. Unless you want to argue that transfusions don't work...
I read your reply it didn't address my point. I know transfusions work. But I am interested in the answer to the OPs post that concerns EPO not transfusions. On your linked post that didn't address the OPs point either.

You can claim I want to argue that transfusions don't work but I could likewise claim that you want to argue that EPO doesn't work (but I won't as I know you realise this).

As I stated we don't have to look any further than my linked climbing times on the Alpe to see EPO - not transfusions did become the favoured method in the early 90s, take another look at the site I linked. But riders and teams were still figuring out how to use it by 1993 as some performances were very erratic e.g. Bugno and Chiappucci's implosion on the Galibier stage.

What stands out in that list is the 2004 MTT and 2006. Yes these show transfusions had taken over. But EPO was the easier method which is why it was a no brainer to use EPO and not bother with transfusions before the EPO test was implemented.

Transfusions have been used since the 70s until very recently - probably still occuring. But EPO was only being used from maybe late 80s (87) but after EPO test was limited to micro-dosing. Climbing times seem to correspond with the rise and fall of EPO.

With the advent of the EPO test in 2000 the peleton turned back to transfusions and EPO micro-dosing and managing glow times to avoid detection. Times in the 2004 MTT show transfusions had more than compensated for EPO. But 37-38 minutes is no longer possible without triggering on the blood passport [36:40 for Pantani].

The EPO test and then the blood passport put the lid on performances as shown by the climbing times on the Alpe. Geraint Thomas was timed at 41:30 in last year's tour after being pulled from the bottom for 13.8Km by Froome, Bernal, Kwiatkowski etc).
 
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OFF-topicish, but here is one item about the one hour team of Merckx from the biography by Daniel Friebe (p. 245):
The most striking stat of all pertained to how many doctors Merckx was consulting. It was at least eight, including [physiologist Paolo] Ceretelli; Merckx's Molteni team doctor, Cavalli; his personal doctor Lemage and five others more or less connected with the University of Liège – Messers Petit, Pirnay, Noret, Maréchal and Deroanne.
When the efficacy of blood doping and what limited Vo2Max was discussed in the academic journals in the 1970s, at least four of the Liège doctors (with the possible exception of Noret) conducted some experiments where their subjects breathed different mixtures of oxygen enriched air at different atmospheric pressures (ATA) and measured how it affected Vo2Max.

Because the increase in Vo2Max was surprisingly low vs. how much extra oxygen the blood carried, they concluded in one of their papers that "the slight increase of the maximum Vo2 being so much lower than the additional O2 transported by the arterial blood suggests that the circulatory system is not the only limiting factor" and correspondingly "[t]he muscle cells also seem to be restricted in their utilization of the 02 supplied to them". When some blood doping researchers later referenced to "pro"- and "con"- literature about the possible benefit/unbenefits of blood doping, this Liège-research was in the "con"- camp with the rest of the skeptics.

Therefore if these Liège folks were the ones who came up with the idea of using a transfusion to combat the detrimental effects of thin air at altitude, it is likely that they would've found the method of marginal value at sea level.
 
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I'm as critical as anyone... but here someone is truly going over the deep-end by using personal opinions as a yardstick.

StyrbjornSterki said:
GuyIncognito said:
...- I want to know how it "spread". Was it a few isolated riders, or was there a geographical component....
The fastest pre-1991 climb of l'Alpe was Luis Herrera in 1987 at 41:44. You might well consider that the benchmark for a "pane e aqua" time. It also is (only) the 154th fastest ascent of the Alpe to date (during a TdF). Anything quicker is suspicious. Quicker than 41 minutes is "not normal." Quicker than 40 is a certifiable space alien.
Uhm? Herrera is the epitome of clean cycling?

1. Is there any proof he's physically the best climber ever?
2. Is there any evidence he wasn't charging the old fasioned way?
3. Herrera actually has a bike of 6.8 kg? New fangled lightweight clothes and shoes? A kilo is approx 30 seconds on Alpe right there.

Sorry, completely arbitrary due to some rosey eyed view of how Lucho was the epitome of climbing.

Lemond's fastest Alpe (he of the 93 VO2max) is 42-something, not even in the top 200.
1. Lemond was a very good Diesel and was one of the best wheel suckers (with respect, his mental toughness was through the roof) but he wasn't known for actually being the best climber. he generally followed behind the Colombians or Fignon or Hinault (again, no disrespect, it is simply how it was).
2. Lemond always rode for Yellow, fast climbing times were unimportant versus the tactical game. He was without peer there.
3. Generally Alpe was after a long stage with much less refined team work. Comparing times is incredibly hard.

In 1988, Indurain did 58 minutes. In 1991 he did 40:31. In 1994, 39:30. In 1995, 38:14.
A charger for sure, but 1988 is just not a valid data point. Indurain was already being proclaimed the next TdF winner in 1986 when he won L'Avenir. Now we can make a story how a new Spanish pro was the first Epo user ever, but that's really unlikely. He was NOT a donkey, nor was he a bad climber. Indeed in 1988 he worked his balls of for Delgado, which really schews his times.

He certainly went with the Epo train, but due to the fading of Lemond he gets more flak than neccesary. People forget that Lemond also faded immensely versus a guy like Mottet (supposedly clean).

Indurain's reversal for GC against Lemond from 1990 to 1991 was 26 minutes. 1990 was Big Mig's 6th appearance in the TdF and his first top-10 finish. He took GC on the following season.
As expected and prognosed already in 1986 in for example Dutch magazines. In that article Echevarristated he was specifically brought slowly (by pulling him from races). Did he charge? Yep. But there was more to Big Mig than just doping. 1988-1990 he was super-domestique of Perico (in 1990 people said it was one year too long), and in 1991 he most certainly was listed among the favorites.

The shadow of Lemond rests way too heavily on this forum. Lemond simply wasn't incontestable the best rider of his generation, not before he got shot and certainly not after he got shot. He's amazing, he's among the greatest, but somehow everyone who beats Lemond is getting much more bad press than warranted. As I said, Lemond's fading away in 1991 is more than Epo, he also got beat by people who probably weren't charging hard.

Lemond came third in his first appearance in the TdF (1985). He probably could have contended for GC with a stronger team.
Dude, stop.

1. his first TDF was 1984. He got smoked as everyone else by Monster Fignon who kinda wrecked his body then and there. The Renault won the TTT with 4 seconds on Panasonic and Kwantum, but those teams lacked Super Fignon and Greg Lemond which made all the difference in the world. Saying Lemond would have won that TdF with a better team is laughable considering he rode on the best team and he(and Hinault) got torched in every individual match-up (being a TT or climbing, Fignon was bizarre).
2. 1985 he certainly rode in the best team and like everyone got smoked by team-mate Hinault until Hinault hit the deck in Saint Etienne. Afterwards he was stronger and could have won it.
3. 1986 the team was even stronger and he won the GC helped by Hinault's truly insane suicide attack in the Pyrenees (Hinault had a BIG gap on everyone already). Lemond kept his cool,followe dthe Colombians and broke Hinault. In the Alpes he tandemed Hinault, together they put the whole peloton to the sword and that's how Lemond won his first TdF.

This hero-worship helped by "Slaying the Badger"is just silly. Lemond was one of the best GT riders of the moment, but both in 1984 and 1985 he met a stronger rider. And after he got shot he didn't return as strong either. In 1989 watt for watt he was not as good as Fignon, but brain vs. brain he outgunned "le Professeur". In 1990 he had both the brains as a strong team, but he seemed to be already fading on the climbs.

He did win in 1986. He bore all the earmarks of a borned GC contender (except for the 'American" thing). And in 1991 he was only 30 years and a couple of weeks of age.
Yep, Lemond was known to be a future winner from the start. Just like Indurain for that matter... And in 1991 he faded, but unless we accept that Januari 1991 the whole peloton started to charge en masse except Lemond, he clearly was already over his peak. And that's not weird considering what the guy went through.

Quite simply said, lemond's downward trajectory is not just EPO. Indeed even 1990 had some troubling signs, he was tactically the best, but already was lacking power (had to rely more and more on his team).

Also, fun facts:

1. NOBODY saw Fignon coming before 1983, so about an unexpected race-horse: Fignon fits that bill.
2. After 1983 people thought Fignon was another Walkowiak.
3. In 1984 Fignon smashed expectations in the Giro and won French Nationals, yet the huge favorite was deemed to be Hinault. Certainly nobody saw his bizarre dominance of 1984 coming.

Being a future GT star or not being recognized as one is not highly calibrated science. We have 20-20 hindsight and that colors our view. But there always have been surprises and most expected future stars never manage to reach their supposed potential.

Indurain's time on l'Alpe in the 1991 TdF was under 41 minutes. From 1990 to 1991, he made the classic "pack horse to race horse" transformation. And just as obviously, by 1995 his PEDs program was well-optimised.
Bull-doodoo. Indurain evolved and Epo certainly played a role, but he never was regarded a "pack horse". That's just hyperbolic nonsense. Years before the first whispers of Epo entered the narrative Indurain was pointed at as a future GT winner. And his times on the final climb simply are not the whole story considering his role. He was the one motoring Perico until the final.

Would Miguel won 5 TdF's without Epo? Nobody knows, I'd say not (though who would have challenged him with the regular fading of the old Renault heroes?). But saying he never would have one a GT without is just as speculative.

=> Using Herrera or Fignon or Lemond as yardstick is utterly arbitrary. Even before Epo there was progress. There's also no evidence that these super specimens (they are of course genetical freaks) are the epitome of human capacity (sorry the VO2 max thing is fun, but unless Fignon had even higher VO2 max it's clear there's more to performance than that).
=> What we do know: Epo got in the mix at the end of the eighties (according to what we know and what was said at the time) and from the early 90ies (hello Gewiss) it was determining everything. After mid 90ies team's really got the method down to pat and we see widespread team based doping (it existed before for example PDM and almost certainly Reynolds). These things can be corroborated by stories, evidence and research.

Highly speculative: Early Epo uptake (mid 80ies). No evidence so far. Seems unlikely due to cost and availability (Cycling wasn't as capital strong as it became after Lemond).

Untrue: Later date for top riders (for example 1995). This is pretty much debunked by the Dutch confessionals (Winnen Rooks etc.). IOW winning a GT without EPO is pretty much impossible after 1991.

So the most plausible general timeline:

- Pioneering 1988-1990 (perhaps 1989?)
- Finetuning through Italian doctors 1988-1990.
- Changing the game 1990-1995
- Pioneering Team doping: 1987-1990 (proven for PDM, almost certainly true for Reynolds and Carrera)
- Spread to "universal" team doping 1990-1996

It's the "team-wide"aspect that is IMHO the big difference. More and more rider got under both a training as a dpoing regimen and that had strong effects. Whereas many riders (pretty much everyone besides the top) before the 80ies trained alone and on their own ideas things really changed fast in the 90ies (the increasing influence of trainers and doctors happened in most sports). Riders got monitored and juiced... that combination was the real game-changer.
 

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