September 30, 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…]