Muscle Sport Magazine


By Leigh Penman

It would appear that Marion Jones might be in danger of losing her crown, when it comes to pleading naivety in the land of steroid use. Stepping up to the throne this week is champion boxer Shane Mosley.

It has been revealed that, prior to his September 13, 2003 title fight with Oscar De La Hoya, Mosley had been taking a potent mix of steroids and EPO. However, in good old Marion Jones tradition, Mosley has admitted publicly and in court documents that he took EPO and the designer steroids “the cream” and “the clear,” but says he did not know that they were either illegal or banned!


This ‘confession’ must surely have fallen off the pages of ‘Marion’s Guide to Pleading Ignorance’. However, before we all get caught up in this little vignette of innocence, I think that the most important point in this case is that doping calendars seized in the BALCO raid show that Shane had to scale back his use of EPO two weeks before the title fight with La Hoya due to the fact that his blood grew unnaturally thick with oxygen-rich blood cells.

In fact, medical records have revealed that Mosley’s hematocrit – a measure of red blood cells- had shot up by 8.2% over a period of two weeks. Hematocrit levels usually linger in the low 40’s for non-doping men and anything over 50 will get an Olympic cyclist or marathon runner suspended. In Mosley’s case, his hematocrit jumped from 44 to 52.2 during the two weeks in question. This led to BALCO founder, Victor Conte, moving the boxer to a maintenance phase of less frequent injections so that he didn’t fail a drug test…or have a heart attack!

With regard to Mosley’s claim that he was unaware of the fact that the substances he was taking were illegal, Conte wrote in a sworn statement filed in the defamation case…

“Specifically, I explained to Mr. Mosley and Mr. Hudson (Mosley’s trainer at that time) that ‘The Clear’ was an undetectable anabolic steroid and that ‘The Cream’ contained testosterone and epitestosterone. There is no question that I informed Mr. Mosley that he was taking the three banned performance- enhancing drugs.”

The fact that Mosley successfully tapered the drug so that he wouldn’t test positive in any pre or post fight tests means that, on this occasion, I guess you could say he had a lucky escape from being penalized by the boxing commission. However, you really have to look closely at the effect use of this drug had on his overall health….


EPO (Erythropoietin) is a growth factor that regulates the formation of red blood cells in the body. In medicine it is used to treat severe forms of anemia and, with this in mind, many athletes use it to step up red blood cell production. This is particularly the case for endurance athletes since an excess of red blood cells leads to a greater oxygen uptake and therefore increases in stamina and endurance. Bodybuilders use this drug to increase overall blood and cell volume in order to obtain a more vascular appearance for shows and photo shoots.

The drug is administered subcutaneously, between the skin and the muscle, and can take 12 – 15 hours to reach peak effectiveness. Dosages are usually in the range of 20 – 40 I.U./kg of bodyweight. Intravenous administration is often used in cases where the user seeks an immediate effect.


Although EPO is currently a very popular drug it does have very significant side effects, the most marked of which is high blood pressure. When the blood pressure is raised the whole circulatory system is compromised. This can lead to stroke, heart attack, headaches or blood clots. However, the increase in hematocrit levels (as seen in the case of Shane Mosley) is of great concern as this can lead to blockages in the arteries and veins. Even in mild cases this can lead to irregular heartbeat, nausea/vomiting, shortness of breath, diarrhea and increased potassium levels.
Bottom line…this drug can kill you and, if for some reason you feel compelled to try it, then it is mandatory that you monitor your blood cell count throughout its use. At the end of the day, this drug is best restricted to clinical use, where it can be very valuable and, outside of that arena, unless you are a serious endurance athlete, you are advised to stay well away (and I tried to put that as nicely as I could!).

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

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