What is blood doping:

Blood doping is abuse of techniques and / or substances to enhance the oxygen-transporting capacity of the blood.

This increases the body’s maximum oxygen uptake (aerobic capacity), which is the main performance limiting factor when it comes to endurance. Human performance can therefore be increased significantly by increasing the transport capacity of oxygen.

There are mainly three types of blood doping:

Nespa, dynepo, CERA

  • blood transfusions
  • synthetic oxygen carriers (HBOC)
  • substances that stimulate blood formation, for example by using different EPO variants (Nespa, dynepo, CERA)

Blood doping involves great risk for serious side effects. We have examples of deaths among endurance athletes can be linked to various forms of blood doping. In particular, the combination of blood doping and dehydration (fluid deficiency) dangerous, because it leads to increased risk of blood clots.

The introduction of blood profiles is an important step in the fight against blood doping. Direct detection of blood doping is challenging, but with systematic and frequent blood sampling, the use of such EPO or blood transfusion could be detected in athletes’ blood profiles.

Blood transfusions

There are two methods of “traditional” blood doping: autologous (your own blood) and homologous (someone else’s blood) transfusions.

blood-doping1Autologous blood transfusion involves the draining a certain amount of the athlete’s blood some weeks before the actual competition. The red blood cells are separated from the blood, and stored under optimal conditions. The red blood cells should then be inserted into the body again shortly before the competition. The body has meanwhile replaced the lost blood, and it therefore achieves a higher concentration of red blood cells during the competition.

Homologous blood transfusions means that blood from another person with the same blood type is transmitted before the actual competition.

Both methods give the same performance-enhancing effect. There are currently accurate methods to reveal homologous blood doping, while still working to develop accurate methods for autologous blood doping.

Side Effects

Homologous blood transfusion may lead to
transmission of infectious diseases (HIV, hepatitis, etc.)
immunological reactions to foreign blood

Immunological reaction means that the receiver reacts to the donor’s blood due to immunological differences in the red blood cells. It must be used blood types that can be combined. Such immunological reactions can be life threatening.

Homologous and autologous blood transfusion:

There is a danger of giving too much blood, which can lead to increased risk of blood clots (stroke, pulmonary embolism) and heart failure.

Synthetic oxygen carriers

artificial-blood-7Synthetic hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers (HBOC) is made by chemical modification of hemoglobin from cows and humans that are capable of binding and transporting oxygen into the bloodstream from the lungs to the tissues. Normally located hemoglobin inside the red blood cells, but these drugs (HBOC) circulates freely in the bloodstream.

The formulations used in emergency medical cases in which human blood is not available, or when there is insufficient time to find blood that is compatible with the recipient’s blood type. In such cases, synthetic hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers be lifesaving.

This kind of materials are now used as doping and has about the same performance enhancing effects as other forms of blood doping, since they increase the blood’s oxygen transport capacity.

Side Effects

increased risk of blood clots (stroke, myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism) and heart failure
severe allergic reactions


EPOEPO ( erythropoietin ) is a hormone that regulates the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow .

EPO is produced in the kidneys and transported via the bloodstream to the bone marrow . Where the EPO stimulates the formation of red blood cells. Artificially produced EPO in different varieties included in several approved drugs in Norway . EPO formulations are used primarily in the treatment of patients with anemia ( anemia ) due to renal failure , and cancer.

Since EPO stimulates the production of red blood cells , the use of EPO preparations increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. The compositions are therefore very effective as doping agents.

Nespa and CERA are respectively 2 and 3 generation EPO preparations, and they stimulate the production of red blood cells. These EPO variants have a slightly different structure than the body’s own EPO . They are broken down more slowly in the body and therefore has a longer duration than 1 generation EPO .

Side Effects

  • reaction at injection site
  • Flu -like symptoms
  • makes the blood thicker and increases the risk of blood clots and heart failure
  • severe allergic reactions
  • development of high blood pressure
  • cramps
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