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Floyd Landis: Effects of Steroids or EPO

After Tour de France winner Floyd Landis was alleged to have taken testosterone, several physicians were widely quoted in the media stating that taking testosterone for one day cannot improve performance. They are wrong. After multiple Olympic gold medal winning sprinter Marion Jones tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO), many physicians stated that EPO doesn't help sprinters. They are also wrong. (She was cleared because her second sample tested negative.)

Such lack of knowledge reminds me of the early 1970s, when the East Germans and Russians won just about every sports event that required strength. Many American physicians were widely quoted as saying that synthetic testosterone does not make athletes stronger. The athletes thought that these physicians were misguided because soon after starting to take synthetic male hormones, they could observe spectacular improvements in their own performances. Athletes train by taking a hard workout that damages muscles, feeling sore on the next day, than going easier until the soreness diminishes, and then going hard again. As soon as an athlete starts to take anabolic steroids, he notices that he recovers much faster than before, so he can do more intense training which makes him a better athlete.

Every athlete who has ever taken synthetic testosterone knows that it helps him recover faster. So Floyd Landis was exhausted after bonking on the previous day. Late in the race, he ran out of fluid and fuel and tired terribly. On the next day, he was better than any one else and won his race by more than eight minutes.

The limiting factor in endurance races is how long it takes to move oxygen from the bloodstream into muscles. Anything that moves oxygen into muscles faster will make you a better athlete in events that take longer than two minutes. Since 98 percent of the oxygen in your muscles is carried by your red blood cells and very little is diffused in the blood fluid, anything that increases the number of red blood cells allows the blood to carry more oxygen and makes you a better athletes. Marion Jones races in events that take much less than 30 seconds, a time where oxygen deficiency is not a factor. However, increasing her red blood cell count allows her to run faster over longer distances in practice, which makes her stronger and faster in short-distance races.

Checked 9/29/08

May 10th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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