September 25, 2020

Use of Biosimilar EPO Agents Widespread at 2008 Tour de France

A BBC investigation suggests that most athletes who use recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO) continue to get away with it. The investigative article reveals several reasons why the EPO test is failing. But the BBC revealed that the biggest problem is not the ineffectiveness of the existing EPO tests used by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). It is a lack of testing for variants of EPO.

Athletes are using various “biosimilar” EPO agents for which WADA has not yet developed a detection method. WADA’s ballyhooed test for the previously undetectable Mircera (pegylated EPO) was an admission that the already flawed existing EPO test was unable to detect variants of EPO; the announcement of the new CERA (Mircera) test at the 2008 Tour de France was considered a major victory.

There are also dozens of “copycat” or “biosimilar” versions of EPO. These are variants of EPO that are produced by different methods or exist as slightly different biological forms of EPO e.g. darbepoetin alfa, epoetin alfa, epoetin beta, epoetin gamma, epoetin delta, epoetin epsilon, epoetin zeta, epoetin theta, epoetin kappa, epoetin omega. The existence of biosimilar versions of EPO is a major problem for drug testers [Read more…]

Spanish Doctor Implicated in Doping Scandal – "Germans Want to Shit on the Spaniards"

Spanish doctor Marcos Maynar Mariño sent an email offering comprehensive urinalysis and steroid profiling at 50 euros per athlete to as many as ten professional cycling teams including Gerolsteiner, Milram, CSC and Columbia . Maynar offered to provide a complete analysis consistent with the same control methods used by the International Cycling Union (UCI). The services would be conducted by the Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry at the Faculty of Sciences at the Universidad de Extremadura in Cáceres, Spain (“Dos médicos españoles, acusados de dopar,” July 20).

According to the German television station ARD, Spanish doctor Marcos Maynar offered these services as for internal testing allowing athletes to monitor their doping to ensure that their use of performance enhancing drugs would not be detected by doping controls at the 2008 Tour de France and other pro cycling events. Maynar responded to the allegations that he aided and abetted doping by suggesting that ARD had ulterior motives stemming from bitterness over disgraced cyclist Jan Ullrich (“Marcos Maynar niega que quiera favorecer el dopaje,” July 21).

“Since Jan Ullrich’s tested positive, the Germans have wanted to shit on the Spaniards.”

[Read more…]

Riccardo Ricco Tests Positive for Undetectable New Drug Mircera at 2008 Tour de France

Cyclist Riccardo Ricco of the Saunier Duval-Scott team tested positive for the new performance enhancing drug Mircera (methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta) at the 2008 Tour de France. Ricco is a top cyclist on the Tour and the King of the Mountains and White Jersey leader.

Mircera is a third generation version of erythropoietin manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Hoffman-LaRoche that has been called “Super EPO.” The big news at the Tour is not that another cyclist was caught doping, it is that a cyclist was caught using a performance enhancing drug that was widely considered “undetectable.” The quick withdrawal of the entire Saunier Duval team from the Tour supports speculation that Mircera was the team’s secret weapon (“Riccardo Riccò tests positive; Saunier Duval team withdraws from Tour de France,” July 17).

Recent rumors in the sport had suggested that some riders were using an undetectable new oxygen-enhancing drug widely thought to be Roche’s Micera. The existence of a test for CERA was not announced, but Riccò’s positive for the substance suggests that it has not escaped the attention of anti-doping officials.

[Read more…]