What are the hormone drugs (and doping) that Lance Armstrong took and why are they bad

World Cycling is reeling in a pain as golden boy Lance Armstrong is categorically busted for blood doping and taking sports enhancing drugs! The US postal service have posted this press release.

It’s like the time in your life when you found out that Easter Bunny doesn’t exist but you keep on pretending and playing the game because you love the fantasy so much.

I, like many small times athletes/sports people, want to believe the awesomeness of Lance Armstrong. We want to believe that he fought cancer and came back and won the BIGGEST bike ride in the world (Tour de France).

Unfortunately I think the honey moon is over and we have to accept that great as he is, his demi-god status is defunct.

What drugs has Lance been implicated with and why are they used?

Erythropoietin EPO  (Neo recormin)

Erythropoietin factor occurs naturally in the body and is nick-named EPO, E, Po, Edgar, “edgar Allen Poe”. It is a hormone that is released in your kidneys in response to low haemoglobin. EPO stimulates the body to produce more haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is the oxygen carrying molecule in the blood so having more means you have greater oxygen carrying ability which means you will perform better. It is used medicinally for correcting anaemia in renal failure patients.

Any sport that requires significant aerobic or endurance fitness would benefit from EPO (triathlons, cycling, rowing).

It’s pretty hard to pick up on urine tests. In 2000 better tests were introduced to test for this form of blood doping but there are ways to disguise it’s use.


Testosterone is naturally occurring in both sexes and is a hormone produced in the testes, adrenals and muscles in guys. It helps with muscle mass, mental health (competitiveness) and muscle strength. Some athletes inadvertently run their levels down due to high training commitments.

Its nick name is “oil” as it is often combined with an oil and allegedly (although I am not sure how it is pharmacologically possible unless you rub it into your gums) bi-passes the liver so more of the steroid is absorbed. Andriol is the most common alternative to testosterone injections and this is how easy it is to find on the net. I simply typed in Andriol and voila – I can buy steroids on line.

The side effects of extra testosterone is wide and dangerous (shrinking testes, cancers of the prostate, testes, rage (roid rage), anxiousness and breast development. It can also affect your voice.

Human Growth Hormone (hGH)

HGH occurs naturally in the body.  It is made legally for people with low Growth Hormone but is used in sport to help with recovery , muscle mass and strength.

It can be given as injection.


Another naturally occurring hormone in the body is cortisol. It is secreted in the body in times of stress and naturally rises every morning and peaks during the day. It is responsible for giving us energy, is anti-inflammatory and helps with recovery.

In my Health Queen clinic I use natural ginsengs and L-Tyrosine to help the adrenals make more cortisol especially if the person is run down or over-training.

Used as an injection into a joint or body area can lead to decreased inflammation, decreased pain and possibly increased healing. Unfortunately with longer term use of steroids in this way the surrounding tissue becomes weaker and leads to chronic injuries.

Cortisone (e.g. Kenalog, Celestone) can also be used to reverse auto-immune diseases, give energy and treat other disease states.

Blood Doping

This is when your collect a sample of your blood and have the red blood cells extracted and later re-inserted into your body. This gives your body extra oxygen carrying capacity which helps performance and recovery. The main advantage of this doping method is that it is undetectable as it is your own blood and is natural! Lance was found to have blood transfusion equipment in his hotel during the  2005 Tour de France.

So as we watch the inevitable role out I can’t help to think that Lance is still a great rider. But reality is there is a lot of money in this sport and blood doping has been too accessible.

I feel that some of the sweetness of Lance’s 13 Tour appearances and 7 wins is now sour but find it hard to right him off totally as an inspiring sports person. Much like Carl Lewis and Flo Jo.

Apparently one third of all Tour de France winners have later been found to be drug cheats.

I might finish by leaving you with the following:

1. Some banned drugs in sports are not really “enhancers”. (I felt very sorry for some athletes being done for minor pain relief pills). Blood transfusions, taking testosterone are obviously “cheating”.

2. With steroids (Deca, Test etc) being so easily available on line, many young men are taking them to augment their development in their teen years and bulk up. This is absolutely dangerous. The side effects are too great.

3. Steroid fall out. When I witness bouncers and other people fighting you can tell if they are on steroids or not. Roid rage is alive and raging!

So if you are thinking of taking steroids, talk to people who are using and those who have tried and why they stopped. It is illegal and not encouraged by anyone in the medical field unless it is for medicinal uses (not sports enhancing purposes).

I have written a booklet for athletes for purchase in shop and talk about natural ways to perform better without cheating. It is a fact that elite athletes get run down with continual training and travel. Look after yourself, eat exceptionally well, rest exceptionally well and take natural supplements under the guidance of someone who knows and is trained (not just a retail shop that sells pills). Oh yes and if you like this feel free to share – I would love to hear other people’s comments and thoughts .