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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2008 Aug;105(2):417-9. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.90529.2008. Epub 2008 Jun 26.

Testing for recombinant human erythropoietin in urine: problems associated with current anti-doping testing.

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  • 1Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre, Rigshospitalet section 7652, Blegdamsvej 9, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.



the main action of recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEpo) is to increase the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. To prevent a possible misuse of rHuEpo, this is tested in urine samples collected from athletes by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited laboratories. Recently the test has met serious critiques, and the aims of the present study were to investigate the detection power of the test as well as the variability in the test power comparing the results of two WADA-accredited laboratories.


eight human subjects were studied for 7 wk and treated with rHuEpo for 4 wk with 2 wk of "boosting" followed by 2 wk of "maintenance" and a post period of 3 wk. Urine samples were obtained during all periods.


laboratory A determined rHuEpo misuse in all subjects during the boosting period, whereas laboratory B found no misuse, with one sample to be negative, and the remaining seven to be suspicious. The detection rates decreased throughout the maintenance and post period when total hemoglobin mass and exercise performance were elevated. During this period, laboratory A found only two of 24 samples to be positive and three to be suspicious, and laboratory B found no positive or suspicious samples.


this study demonstrates a poor agreement in test results comparing two WADA-accredited laboratories. Moreover, after the initial rHuEpo boosting period the power to detect rHuEpo misuse during the maintenance and post periods appears minimal.

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