Robinson, N., Schattenberg, L., Zorzoli, M., Mangin, P., & Saugy, M. (2005). Haematological analysis conducted at the departure of the tour de France 2001. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 26, 200-207.

This study measured blood samples and compared the results obtained in the field with those obtained in the laboratory. The haematological analyses of 177 professional cyclists who took part in the Tour de France 2001 served as data. It was necessary to have blood samples analyzed with different instruments to determine the exactness of the results and evaluate the performances of these instruments in order to validate the haematological testing used to reveal athletes abusing recombinant erythropoietin (rhEPO). All the blood samples were withdrawn in the morning between 7-9 AM in Dunkerque (France) and were analyzed immediately with a transportable analyzer. Samples then were flown to Lausanne (Switzerland) and were reanalyzed in two independent ISO 17 025 accredited laboratories with three different analyzers.

It was concluded that the most effective haematological follow-up should be performed under standardized pre-analytical conditions and with identical analyzers of the same manufacturer to avoid too many variations notably on the haematocrit level and the reticulocyte count. It was suggested that analyses performed on the site are good and could enable the federations to perform a urinary test to detect rhEPO abuse right after the blood analysis. This time saving proposal is essential because the half life of the hormone is very short.

Implication. The detection of rhEPO is difficult and may well be dependent upon the make of analyzer used as well as the handling of samples after collection.

Return to Table of Contents for this issue.