EPO is short for Erythropoietin, it is pronounced "ah rith ro poy tin," and for obvious reasons, most often is just called EPO. Modern science, and all of it's achievement has provided even the lower level athletes, children even, the ways and means, readily available, to achieve a false victory. At a frightening pace, high school runners are doing this now with EPO.
What is EPO? EPO is a protein hormone produced by the kidneys, when it enters the blood stream it accelerates red blood cell production, and for that reason it increases the blood's oxygen carrying capacity, and thus, a runner's endurance. Medically, it is used to treat anemia. Maybe you've heard of "blood doping?" EPO use IS blood doping, in fact, it's "blood doping 2.0." With EPO there is no need for messy, and potentially dangerous transfusions.
Testing for EPO is a new, and "iffy" proposition, as synthetic EPO is virtually identical to the EPO produced naturally in the kidneys. You may recall, or you can Google for it, in 1998, several Tour De France teams were caught red handed with thousands of doses of EPO. The end results of that disaster were that about 50% of the teams quite in protest, or maybe it was shame.
Cheating in sports via the use of chemicals is nothing new. Everyone remembers Mark and Sammy, and the great steroid home run race. Jose Canseco, his tell all books, bicepts, and Barry Bonds, on, and on, and on. Even Rafael Palmerio, the pretty boy, Viagra king got popped. Then came Roger Clemens, and the possible charges of perjury. Nothing is sacred, it seems. MLB almost seems redeemed nowadays, with Josh Hamilton leading the way, a former crack addict. While no one will debate the dangers of steroid use, EPO use is particularly dangerous as it changes the viscosity of the blood. By my use of the word "viscosity," I'm willing to bet that you can come up with the crude, albeit accurate, analogy. Just as thick oil in the engine causes wear where the oil doesn't flow, EPO use can cause a stroke in the cheating athlete.
In competitive cyclist, EPO use has caused heart attacks. Canadian cyclist Genevieve Jeanson, now retired, has admitted to STARTING her EPO use at age SIXTEEN.
Why is EPO use increasing among youngsters? Your high school can NOT afford to test the track team for it, and with the skyrocketing costs of college education and a slumping economy, the lure of the athletic scholarship, and the prestige associated with star athletes is simply to much to resist.