Cyclists who dope themselves with EPO may not gain any performance advantage even though they are putting their health at risk, according to a study by European scientists.
The study by the Centre for Human Drug Research in the Netherlands and published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology dismisses the view that EPO gives cyclists an edge.
The researched says the drug has many perils for those who use it illicitly, including blood clots that can cause strokes and heart attacks.
The belief behind EPO is that it improves oxygen uptake and boosts power output.
But Professor Adam Cohen says while athletes and their medical staff may believe EPO enhances performance, there is no evidence to show it does improve performance in elite cyclists.
As early as 1990, the drug appeared on the International Olympic Committee's banned list, given suspicions that by increasing red-blood cell mass, it also boosts exercise capacity.