Martin, D. T., Boston, T. T., McClean, B. D., Lee, H., Bannan, S., Craig, N. P., Gore, C. J., & Hahn, A. G. (1999). Resting hematocrit in male cyclists during a 6-day stage race. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 31(5), Supplement abstract 1623.

The Union Cycliste Interntionale (UCI) currently prevents professional cyclists from competing if resting hematocrit exceeds 50%. It is inferred that the excessive hematocrit is a health risk and could indicate the use of erythropoietin. The effect of a 6-day stage race on morning resting hematocrit was evaluated in top Australian male cyclists (N = 14) each day of the race.

Body mass did not change over the observation period. Hematocrit (-4%) and hemoglobin decreased over the race and plasma volume increased by 17%.

These data suggest that dangerous levels of hematocrit are more likely to be found at the beginning, rather than intermediate or latter stages of extended road races.

Implication. If testing for hematocrit (EPO), test early in a race.

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