According to a report from the Associated Press, Russian authorities investigating the death of New York Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov have uncovered evidence that he was engaged in blood doping. The report from the AP reads as follows:
Russia's federal Investigative Committee released a statement Monday saying the samples allow a conclusion "that for several months Alexei Cherepanov engaged in blood doping." There was no elaboration.
So what exactly is blood doping? Here's the Wikipedia definition:
Blood doping is the practice of boosting the number of red blood cells (RBCs) in the circulation in order to enhance athletic performance. Because they carry oxygen from the lungs to the muscles, more RBCs in the blood can improve an athlete's aerobic capacity (VO2 max) and endurance.
There are two ways you can engage in blood doping. In the first, blood is harvested from the athlete or a compatible donor, concentrated and frozen. Next, the red blood cells are transfused back into the athlete. Alternatively, the athlete can also be given EPO, a naturally occurring hormone that promotes the growth of red blood cells. Both procedures carry a certain degree of risk. In the case of the former, there's always a risk of infection or the transmission of a communicable disease. In the case of the latter ... well, I'll let the wiki reference deliver the news:
EPO is also not free of health hazards: excessive use of the hormone can cause polycythemia, a condition where the level of RBCs in the blood is abnormally high. This causes the blood to be more viscous than normal, a condition that strains the heart. Some elite athletes who died of heart failure-usually during sleep, when heart rate is naturally low-were found to have unnaturally high RBC concentrations in their blood
More later as details arrive.