There’s been a lot of talk about doping in cycling recently. Which let’s face it, isn’t exactly out of the ordinary these days.
If it’s not doping through drugs, it’s mechanical doping, and if not that, there’s probably still something in the headlines – Lance Armstrong cheating at Monopoly or quitting the game just before his mate was about to equalise on FIFA.
Anyway, on this occasion, it is cycling’s least favourite three letters when it comes to legitimacy – EPO – that have once again reared their ugly head.
But fear not, this is no professional outbreak or breaking news story that’s going to make you hate that rider you’ve always looked up to. In fact, it could just make you some money, depending on your views on drugs of course.
How’s that then? Well, researchers in the Netherlands are look for “48 healthy, well-trained male cyclists aged between 18 and 45 years" old who are willing to pump up on EPO and ride up Mont Ventoux – and they’ll pay them £860 plus expenses for their efforts.
The study aims to find out the results of the blood boosting agent on the abilities of the experienced cyclists, with the Centre for Human Drug Research looking to investigate “the effect of recombinant human erythropoietin/EPO on the bike performance and potential side effects in well-trained cyclists."
Of course, there’s a small hiccup to this plan in the fact that EPO is banned under the World Anti-Doping Code. Researchers do not believe this to be a problem though, stating:
“A comprehensive literature search showed that there has been no adequate research into the effects of EPO for cyclists.
“Our conclusion is therefore that it is not proven that EPO has a performance-enhancing effect in professional cyclists. This study should provide clarity in the matter."
The trial will last three months, from March to June, with 24 participants having EPO administered by subcutaneous injection and the other 24 given a placebo. The test subjects will have to test and train regularly, making 15 three-hour visits to the CHDR before riding a race of 150km finishing at Mont Ventoux.