A recent BBC report has raised doubts over a key doping test for EPO -- a drug that has been banned for Olympic athletes. The BBC claims that laboratories of the World Anti-Doping Agency, or WADA, are declaring some blood samples free of EPO, even though they contain evidence of the drug. “The World” anchor Lisa Mullins speaks with BBC science reporter Matt McGrath, who broke the story.
McGrath says that EPO is vital drug when used properly -- for people who have cancer or kidney failure, the development of this drug was a major breakthrough. But for athletes who use EPO, which makes more red blood cells that carry more oxygen, it allows for heightened endurance. In the 1990s, it was used in many endurance sports, and became almost endemic -- in the Tour de France, it was believed that over 60 percent of riders were using EPO at the time.
A research project in Denmark recently showed that athletic performance by subjects medicated with EPO increased by 50 percent.
PRI's "The World" is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. "The World" is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston.