Good question -- why bother? I thought you wanted "out of the box" discussion on this topic. I agreed with you and the link to the great science of the "Rushall comment", that the "increased RBC delivering more oxygen to the muscles" doesn't completely make sense (especially for sub-max efforts). It's too simple. There must be more. While this mechanism has been shown to work, especially on the half trained, there must be several other mechanisms. I'm just trying to help find alternatives. We've already seen suggested:
- psychological (placebo) benefits
- improved recovery benefits
- physical protective benefits
- the "allegedly dubious" observed effect of instantaneous performance (presumably motivational) boost in mice (who likely are not exhibiting a placebo effect). This suggests that the psychological boost might not only be placebo, but a real side effect of EPO.
- there's another study that found a simultaneous higher peak power, and a longer time to exhaustion, after a brief EPO regime -- this also seems to require adding complexity to the "more RBC-> more VO2max -> more performance" model, to explain the observed improvement in endurance.
I don't say all effects are real, but like you, I'd like to see more "lateral thinking", and any supporting evidence.
I said you need to do more work to show that downhill running is like fast pedaling. I have never raced a bike, but I raced (well completed) a hilly 50km trail run, which destroyed my legs, due to bad downhill technique, and muscle damage from to excessive eccentric muscle actions and subsequent braking. Help me understand how fast pedaling on a bike can be compared to downhill running, in terms of eccentric muscle contractions, and recovery. The 50km trail run required about two months of recovery. How long do I have to pedal fast to achieve the same recovery requirement?
Did I say anything about Ethiopians using EPO? (Here or in another thread? Now or ever?) What do I really believe? I really believe that Ethiopians, and also Kenyans, and other top East Africans are NOT using EPO. I also really believe, that if they are already well trained and in top form, that an EPO regime would help very little, if at all. I would be very interested in seeing a reliable way to quantify the benefits for such athletes at that point in their training.
The only thing I recently said about Ethiopians was in another thread. It was really more about Kenyans, but in one sentence I included Ethiopians and Eritreans. I said I would accept "lax controls" as a hypothesis that could explain East African regional dominance. This is a better suggestion than the often alleged "globally available" EPO hypothesis. It's a starting point. To go beyond hypothesis, that argument needs to be developed to show that "lax controls" exist; that "lax controls" result in EPO usage that causes a significant performance difference; and that "tight controls" effectively prevent any non-East African country, from achieving the same performance, even just once. For extra credit, such an argument would also address non-EPO factors that could also result in better East African performances.
You gave me a link to a badly written article about some dubious 'science' research. Why bother?
Downhill running is very similar to pedalling a bike fast. Have you ever done any bike racing rekrunner?
Do you really believe that the Ethiopian runners are using or have used EPO?
I agree with you about the strong belief. Morale is so important.