Erythropoietin (EPO) is a hormone produced by the kidney and released into the blood when a reduction in oxygen is detected. It stimulates the formation of new red blood cells from blood stem cells in the bone marrow (erythropoiesis). Blood doping is the practice of misusing certain techniques and substances to increase the red blood cells in the body.

There are three widely known substances or methods used for blood doping, namely: 

  • Erythropoietin (EPO)
  • Synthetic oxygen carriers and: 
  • Blood transfusions

Recombinant EPO (rEPO) is a synthetic substance not produced naturally by the human body. It is listed under class S2.1.1 ‘Peptide Hormones, Growth Factors, Related Substances, and Mimetics - Erythropoietins (EPO) and agents affecting erythropoiesis - Erythropoietin receptor agonists'. It is classified as a Non-Specified Substance under the World Anti-Doping Code – International Standard – Prohibited List – 2022 and prohibited at all times.

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