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How Cycling Pro's Defeat Anti Doping Control

How Cycling Pro's Defeat Anti Doping Control

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Published by Cycling Fan
Article from Cozy Beehive appeared on Jan 08, 2010. Contributed by Joe Papp, many methods used by athletes to escape doping control are outlined. A distressing read but reality bites.
Article from Cozy Beehive appeared on Jan 08, 2010. Contributed by Joe Papp, many methods used by athletes to escape doping control are outlined. A distressing read but reality bites.

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Published by: Cycling Fan on Jan 08, 2010
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04/01/2011

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HOW CYCLING PRO’S DEFEAT ANTI-DOPINGCONTROL
There is doping in cycling, no doubt. However, as we have it, there's a fine linebetween talking about it and not talking about it. If you don't talk about it, like they say, ignorance is bliss and you have a million happy cycling fans who know little of the real going on's of cycling. If you talk about it, suddenly you're a hater of  professional athletes and you are giving the business of cycling a bad name. As the author of this blog, I cannot live with ignorance and naivety. Inaction isworse than silence. If we don't understand what is really going on in our sport, wewill not have the power to help clean it up as fans. The best way to understandingthe doping issue is through education.This
Guest Post 
by none other than ex-racer Joe Papp describes at length howracers subvert and escape doping control. Joe needs no special introduction. He's
and I think he's a fine candidate to tell us how slippery the pro's can get from the system. How are athletes tricking our intelligence into
 
believing illegitimate sporting performances? Well, find out by reading the followingeye-opening article.
W
hen Ron asked if I would be willing to write a guest post for Cozy Beehive, I readilyaccepted, thinking I’d be able to oblige within a few days. It’s funny how life throws curve-balls, because it’s been a lot longer than that since I promised the piece, and
drugscandals have hit cycling during the interim. The topic is but a general overview of some of theways by which riders attempt to defeat anti-doping controls – a course of study that should have been read by
and
(at least according to their A-sample results).The counter-measures an athlete will deploy in hopes of beating a doping control are all drawnfrom the same bag of dirty tricks, though the specific tactic ultimately depends on which doping product the athlete has ingested and where he can find a possible weakness in the testing protocol.
I. SPIKING WITH ENZYMES
Axelsson is accused of taking 
,which is detectable via
. About the time of 
, however, riders were defeating the urine-based EPO test by spiking their samples with small doses of enzymes like
, which break down proteins — includingEPO — in urine in the space of a few minutes.Typically an athlete would conceal a supply of protease powder in his jersey before a test,transfer it to his fingers with a quick movement and then urinate over his hand into the sample bottle to ensure that the test is meaningless. Alternatively, once doping control officers (DCO’s) began to insist that the athletes wash their hands first, male athletes switched to secreting the powder under their foreskin and transferred it that way.
II. ILLEGAL POWDERS
A more sophisticated method was used in Spain, where, according to an acquaintance of minewho rode for Kelme during the Fuentes years,
was their preferred tactic.
Manzano : "There is a red powder that's made in an illegal lab just for them outside of any controls which destroys the urine sample. This powder comes in the form of a grainof rice that we put into our penis before we pee…”III. EPO MICRO-DOSING
Given that the
is now wise to this subterfuge and has instructed its DCO’s to be on thelookout for it, the best bet that a rider has for beating an EPO control is to micro-dose. EPO,typically produced from cultured animal cells, is detectable in urine for less than a week. A
 
decade ago, before the development of the urine test, riders would gorge themselves on largequantities of EPO during the inter-race periods to raise their  
levels, and re-dose prior to competition. Now, there is a growing trend towards micro-dosing, where athletes take small, barely detectableamounts of EPO to maintain the slightly elevated levels with which they enter competitions. TheUCI
will make it difficult for dopers to manipulate blood parameterssufficiently to enhance performance without tripping a reporting threshold, and even with micro-dosing there is now no guarantee that minute changes in a rider’s hematological profile will gounnoticed. And if changes are noticed, watch out! The hematological profile itself can be used toopen a doping case against a rider.The UCI explains:
“The haematological [sic] profile opens new doors in the detection of riders who chooseto manipulate their blood to unfairly enhance their performance. The scientificassessment of a rider’s profile applies similar principles to those used in forensic medicalscience to determine the likelihood of guilt. Once sufficient evidence is gathered whichdetermines guilt at an agreed level of certainty, scientific experts will recommend thatthe UCI open disciplinary proceedings for an anti-doping rule violation. It is expectedthat a profile of six tests will enable the detection of blood manipulation. In some cases, afewer number of tests may be needed to detect doping.Such a violation will be based onArticle 21.2 of the UCI Anti-Doping Rules – “The use or attempted use of a prohibited method". To support this rule, theList of ProhibitedSubstances and Prohibited Methodsmaintained by WADA is incorporated into the UCIAnti-Doping Rules. Section M1 of the Prohibited List prescribes the “enhancement of oxygen transfer through blood doping” as a prohibited method.The expected sanction for a first offence under this rule is a suspension fromcompetition for 2 years. In addition, the detection of abnormal levels will cause a rider tobe declared unfit and to be suspended from racing for an agreed period of time."IV. URINE SUBSTITUTION
 Not nearly as glamorous as spiking urine samples or manipulating blood profiles to thwart adoping control is the process of urine substitution, whereby an athlete’s dirty sample issubstituted with that of another person (who presumably hasn’t consumed banned substances) or a synthetic sample.While the Italian team I rode for never switched one flask of human urine for another, they didkeep cartridges of synthetic urine in the team car in case of a random control. The powder withinthe cartridge would be poured into a small Mylar bag, and then, with the addition of lukewarmwater, a “safe” sample would be ready. At that point, it was up to the rider and his team attendantto distract the DCO or otherwise subvert the sample collection process in order to deliver thesynthetic urine in place of the rider’s own “hot” pee.

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