After years of denial, former cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted to doping during a 2013 interview with Oprah. Armstrong admitted to taking EPO, doping his blood and using other banned substances such as testosterone. The former cyclist described taking a “cocktail” which included “EPO, transfusions and testosterone.”
“I viewed it as very simple,” Armstrong explained to Oprah (via BBC transcript). “There were things that were oxygen-supplying drugs that were beneficial for cycling. My cocktail was EPO, but not a lot, transfusions and testosterone. I thought, surely I’m running low [on testosterone following the cancer battle] but there’s no true justification.”
EPO refers to Erythropoietin which is naturally produced by the kidney as the Cleveland Clinic detailed.
“Erythropoietin (EPO) is produced by the kidney and used to make red blood cells,” the organization explained. “Erythropoetin-stimulating agents are used often for people with long-term kidney disease and anemia.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency Admitted That the Previous Detection Process Allowed a “Large Number of EPO Abusers to Escape”
The benefits of taking EPO involved the oxygen that is able to go to the user’s muscles.
“An increase in red blood cells improves the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry to the body’s muscles,” the World Anti-Doping Agency explained.
The organization also noted that testing measures have been enhanced. The World Anti-Doping Agency admitted that earlier testing that was introduced in 2000 “allowed a large number of EPO abusers to escape detection.”
The conservative approach used in the initial phase of implementation of the method allowed a large number of EPO abusers to escape detection.
Consistent with the advancing science in anti-doping, work is done on an ongoing basis on all detection methods to refine their sensitivity and the interpretation of results. In the case of EPO, based on expert consensus, new interpretation criteria are introduced as science advances for a more discriminant reading of EPO results.
Armstrong Called EPO a “Safe Drug”
Armstrong discusses his decision to dope in detail in the new ESPN documentary LANCE. According to Esquire, the former cyclist referred to EPO as a “safe drug” during one of his extensive interviews in the documentary.
“In many ways–and this is not going to be a popular answer—EPO is a safe drug,” Armstrong noted, per Esquire. “Assuming certain things, assuming [it is] taken properly, taken under the guidance of a medical professional, taken in conservative amounts… There are far worse things you can put in your body.”
Armstrong cited a corrupt culture in the sport during his 2013 interview with Oprah where he finally admitted to wrongdoing. The former cyclist implied that he was not alone in cheating when he was racing and admitted he did not think anyone could win without doping.
“Not in that generation, and I’m not here to talk about others in that generation,” Armstrong noted (via BBC). “It’s been well-documented. I didn’t invent the culture, but I didn’t try to stop the culture, and that’s my mistake, and that’s what I have to be sorry for, and that’s what something and the sport is now paying the price because of that. So I am sorry for that. I didn’t have access to anything else that nobody else did.”