Microdosing in Cycling
The sport of cycling is one of the most prestigious yet very challenging sports in the world and is often plagued by illegal endurance performances due to drug use. This has brought about the strict implementation of biological passport to contain cheating in the sporting event.
The biological passport scheme developed two and half years ago has the total support and confidence of the World Anti-Doping Agency. The passport monitors the blood of athletes and electronically records the composition of the blood and any other substances, prohibited or not, that could boost performance.
However, a group of scientists came out with a way to which biological passport could be avoided. The scientists concluded that through microdosing method, the biological passport could be eluded as well as EPO detection in an athlete’s blood stream. It further added that many dishonest athletes and doctors practicing the method are aware of microdosing. The revelations by Floyd Landis has shed light to this alarming situation and named prominent cyclists, cheaters by employing such method.
An account in the New York Times revealed Michael Ashenden’s thoughts on microdosing. Ashenden is an exercise physiologist who advises UCI.
From the New York Times:
“Ashenden and the French researchers have recently repeated their earlier experiments. Somewhat to their surprise, they found that the bodies of the test subjects adapted in a way that hides microdosing from the passport program. For various practical reasons, the passport tests measure only the concentration of red cells in athletes’ blood, not the total amount of red cells in their bodies. Microdosing, however, appears to increase users’ blood volumes significantly. So although EPO raises users’ overall red blood cell level, its concentration stays constant because of the increased blood volume.”