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Erythropoietin and blood doping
  1. N Robinson,
  2. S Giraud,
  3. C Saudan,
  4. N Baume,
  5. L Avois,
  6. P Mangin,
  7. M Saugy
  1. Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses, Institute of Legal Medicine, Lausanne, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to:
 M Saugy
 Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses, Institute of Legal Medicine, Lausanne, Switzerland; martial.saugy{at}


Objective and method: To outline the direct and indirect approaches in the fight against blood doping in sports, the different strategies that have been used and are currently being used to fight efficiently against blood doping are presented and discussed.

Results and conclusions: The paper outlines the different approaches and diagnostic tools that some federations have to identify and target sportspeople demonstrating abnormal blood profiles. Originally blood tests were introduced for medical reasons and for limiting misuse of recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO). In this way it became possible to prevent athletes with haematocrit levels well above normal, and potentially dangerous for their health, competing in sport. Today, with nearly a decade of blood testing experience, sports authorities should be familiar with some of the limitations and specially the ability of blood tests performed prior to competitions to fight efficiently against the misuse of rHuEPO, blood transfusion, and artificial haemoglobin.

  • BFU-E, burst forming unit-erythroid
  • CFU-E, colony forming unit-erythroid
  • EPO, erythropoietin
  • IOC, International Olympic Committee
  • LAD, Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses
  • rHuEPO, recombinant human EPO
  • sTFR, soluble transferring receptor
  • EPO
  • doping
  • transfusion
  • haematocrit
  • reticulocyte count

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  • Competing interests: none declared