The urine test to detect the banned blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO) has come under question by a new study from Denmark. Scientists have called into question the efficacy of the test after they sent samples known to contain EPO for testing to two World Anti-doping Agency accredited labs, and received inconsistent results.
The study, which will appear in next month's edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology was performed last year by the Copenhagen Muscle Research Center. Samples were taken at various times from eight men before, during and after being dosed with EPO.
The samples were then sent to two WADA labs, one of which did not find a single positive sample. The other lab did find some positives, but also declared one sample positive which should have been negative, according to the researchers.
WADA questioned the study, claiming that its own investigations have shown different results. WADA scientific director Olivier Rabin told the New York Times that his group performs similar procedures to test its accredited labs, and has never seen such disparity. "I have never seen such a drastic situation as the one reported in this article," said Dr. Rabin. He did concede that when labs receive his samples, they are aware they are from WADA.
The difficulties in detecting EPO is why both teams and the UCI have moved toward the biological passport program, which examines the results of doping with EPO, rather than looking for the drug itself.