ATHLETICS: Blood tests may be introduced at marathons
Tuesday 23 November 1999
AIMS, the international road race organisation, which covers 125 races from more than 50 countries - including the world's biggest marathons in New York, Chicago, Boston, Rotterdam, Berlin and London - agreed at its annual congress in Kosice, Slovakia, last month, to introduce blood tests to counter the possible use of EPO, the blood-boosting drug which remains undetectable by usual methods of doping control through urine tests.
"No one wants to see marathon running descending into the same state that professional cycling is in, where everyone seems to be on EPO," one of the congress delegates said. "The only way to prevent EPO use is to have blood tests."
EPO is a naturally occurring hormone that helps improve the blood's oxygen- carrying capacity, thus dramatically improving an athlete's endurance. Research suggests that EPO can immediately boost an athlete's performance by 10 per cent - which could amount to an improvement of more than 10 minutes over the 26.2 miles of a marathon.
Rapid improvement in marathon performances has raised suspicions of EPO use. In 1987, two years before synthetic EPO went on the market, only two men managed to run inside 2hr 10min. In each of the last three years, 50 or more men have run sub-2:10.
The International Cycling Union introduced blood tests last year. The tests do not detect EPO use, but measure the percentage of red blood cells, or haematocrit level. A rider with a haematocrit level of 50 per cent or greater can be suspended on health grounds, as happened with the 1998 Tour de France champion Marco Pantani when leading this year's Giro d'Italia.
Alan Storey, the London Marathon's race director, "felt that athletes would accept blood testing if it was a condition for them to receive any financial rewards".
Latest in Sport
Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea top the list of the Premier League's most expensive squads
Mario Balotelli scored as many goals for AC Milan on second debut as he did for Liverpool in the Premier League last season
Cyprus vs Wales match report: Gareth Bale's bullet header has Welsh on brink of Euro 2016
Jose Mourinho: Chelsea manager has four Guinness World records hanging in his office
Sir Alex Ferguson: 'I place discipline above all else and it might have cost us several titles...' but Manchester United boss wouldn't change it
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 2 President Obama leaves touching comment on Humans of New York photo from Iran
- 4 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 5 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Refugees welcome: More than 250,000 sign Independent petition calling for Britain to 'take its fair share'
£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...
£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...
£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...