EPO? Remember EPO?

August 29, 2007

Sevilla defender Antonio Puerta died Tuesday. He was 22.”

Anyone remember how EPO first reared it’s most ugly head in bike racing? Mysterious heart attacks in otherwise young and highly cardiac-fit athletes. EPO (erythropoietin) is a naturally occurring substance that promotes the development of red blood cell precursors. More red blood cells, more oxygen carrying capacity and you get improved performance in aerobic sporting activities. You also, apparently, run the risk of turning your blood into sludge (that’s a technical term) and causing your heart to stop working in the middle of the night if you overdo it.

The obvious inconsistency with the soccer player (footballer for non’Muricans) is that he died on the pitch, not in his sleep.

Nevertheless, remember how cyclists and fans started complaining that other professional sportsmen were involved in Operation Puerto? (Leading to an official denial.) It doesn’t take much to see that EPO would be a nice little help for a soccer player. In fact of the “team” sports this is probably the top suspect for EPO-dopers.

This could be a mysterious virus or congenital defect. Could be.

Update 09/10/07: One conclusion from the ME is a congenital defect, an article on goal.com reviews the issue.