Muscle Sport Magazine

Beijing Retest….Surprise?

By Leigh Penman

Recent news reports have intimated that doping samples collected from athletes during the Olympic Games, held in Beijing this summer, are due to be retested. The reason for this action is the discovery of a new performance-enhancing drug which may have flown under the radar in previous tests.

The new drug is being referred to as CERA, or Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator and it was recently discovered in the stored samples of several Tour de France cyclists. CERA is part of a new breed of anemia drugs, manufactured in order to increase the production of red blood cells – which carry oxygen throughout the body and have the spin-off effect of increasing stamina and endurance.

In France the anti-doping agency introduced a new blood test for this substance and simultaneously caught several Tour de France stage winners engaging in its use (including Italian cyclists Stefan Schumacher and Riccardo Ricco). Apparently the head of this agency, Pierre Bordry, extended the offer to Lance Armstrong to conduct a re-test on his stored urine – Armstrong declined the offer. Way back in 2005, French newspaper L’Equipe had revealed traces of Erythropoietin (EPO) were found in Armstrong’s urine.


CERA is considered to be a pharmacological upgrade of EPO, requiring one twentieth of the dosage to achieve the same results. Produced by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche and sold under the name Micera, the drug has recently gained approval by the FDA for use in the USA. It is rumored that the drug contains a ‘marker molecule’ to make it easily detectable in routine drug tests – the company has however denied this rumor.

As regards the recent Beijing Olympics, the IOC conducted 4,770 drug tests during the games. Many of those samples are stored in Lausanne, Switzerland (home to one of the top anti-doping agencies). The decision as to which samples are going to be retested on numerous factors such as received information; reports and- no doubt rumors surrounding individual athletes.


To date, nine athletes have been implicated in doping offences during the Beijing games, six of whom have received bans. What the proposed retesting will reveal will be interesting to say the least and may affect the futures of several athletes. As to the future of CERA, well as EPO replaced Anadrol –50, CERA looks set to replace EPO amongst endurance athletes. However, those considering its use should be aware that the use of any drug, which increases red blood cell production and facilitates increased oxygen uptake comes with a set of negative side effects. These include high blood pressure, compromised circulatory system and increased susceptibility to headaches, blood clots, stroke and heart attack. In other words, it can kill you. Worth the risk? I think not!

Leigh Penman, in addition to be a staff writer at MuscleSport Mag, has been writing for bodybuilding magazines, websites and nutritional supplement companies since 1985. Whilst residing in the UK, she earned the reputation of being one of the top female writers in bodybuilding-related media. Her credits included being a contributing editor on all the magazines in production as well as filling the shoes of Ladies Editor and Showbiz Editor on two publications (the later being on Arnold’s sanctioned magazine, ‘Bodypower’). During this time she also competed successfully on four occasions (placing in the top four in all contests).

Relocating to New York in the late 1990s she focused her writing attention to crystal healing techniques and metaphysics – however, she still maintained a five day workout schedule during this time and gained her personal training certificate.

Having also studied pharmacology in relation to sports performance, her writing began taking her in that direction until the present day which sees her embarking on a return to the magazine world, as well as extending her web-related work in the bodybuilding and fitness field.

Leigh has been working out for close to thirty years so she is clearly a writer who ‘walks her talk.’
She can be contacted personally at or you can also check her out at New York’s favorite metaphysical store

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