In an article in International Herald Tribune, there is an exciting theory about the hiding of EPO abuse. Scientists in laboratories in Switzerland work to develop a test that can prove a special powder used to destroy traces of the drug EPO (erythropoietin). In the past year, there has been a significant increase in the number of tests showing no EPO at all. The scientists have the theory that the riders use a protease to break down proteins in the urine.
“We have no proof so far, but there are indications that a powder exists. It can happen that people who excrete less EPO than others have a result where there is no EPO, but it is unusual. And over this last year, we’ve seen some suspicious cases of EPO-free urine samples, where we did not understand why suddenly it was undetectable,” Said Martial Saugy, the head of the Swiss anti-doping laboratory to International Herald Tribune.
A small amount of protease can remove EPO
It is possible to remove EPO from the urine by putting protease on their hands then urinating on their fingers. Only a small amount of protease is needed to break down all EPO in the urine.
This theory might explain why so relatively few riders have delivered a positive EPO test compared to how many riders have been caught with an enhanced hematocrit.