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I know that pro cyclists are not allowed to race with hematocryte levels above 50 for health reasons. The normal hematocryte levels though are 40.7-50.3 for males. http://health.allrefer.com/health/hematocrit-values.html
Also the normal levels are set at the 95% level of the population. So 2.5% of males would naturally have levels above the normal maximum level of 50.3.

Does anyone know why the UCI level of 50.0 was determined to be unsafe?
 

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It's arbitrary and not without it's controversies. There is redress if a rider can demonstrate that they have a naturally high hematocrit level. I think some Columbian riders were particularly upset at the 50 pt mark.

The ruling was made as a compromise since there was no blood test at the time ( the current one is still limited in scope) and the fact that having such a concentration of platelets in your blood stream meant your blood was thicker and thus more prone to blockage. So they had to pick a level and 50 pts was what they decided on. It could have been more or less but they chose 50.
 

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standards

MikeBiker said:
I know that pro cyclists are not allowed to race with hematocryte levels above 50 for health reasons. The normal hematocryte levels though are 40.7-50.3 for males. http://health.allrefer.com/health/hematocrit-values.html
Also the normal levels are set at the 95% level of the population. So 2.5% of males would naturally have levels above the normal maximum level of 50.3.

Does anyone know why the UCI level of 50.0 was determined to be unsafe?
I've seen tests of very fast riders in the 40-45 range. Pantani tested in the low 40's, then all the sudden spiked up to over 60! His doctor/witness testified that a series of circumstances *could* have "naturally* gotten him up to 60 without EPO, but it seemed to me to be a real stretch of a number of possibilities all added together. 60 is not natural.

I read that some of the reasoning behind the somewhat arbitrary cut-off was historical/anecdotal evidence of high levels of those having certain health problems or death. So, it wasn't completely arbitrary, but it was less than precise.
 

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It's not about the platelets

The ruling was made as a compromise since there was no blood test at the time ( the current one is still limited in scope) and the fact that having such a concentration of platelets in your blood stream meant your blood was thicker and thus more prone to blockage. So they had to pick a level and 50 pts was what they decided on. It could have been more or less but they chose 50.[/QUOTE]

While platelets are one of the blood components involved in clot formation, platelet count and hematocrit are independent of each other. Hematocrit is a measure of packed cell (mostly erythrocytes, or red blood cells) volume relative to total blood volume. The way upon which they probably came to the 50% mark is that anybody who rides as much as a professional cyclist should have a compensatory plasma volume expansion which will lead to a decreased hematocrit measurement. In the vast majority of athletes with normal erythropoeisis, this should lead to a crit of less than 50%.
A measurement of >50% is suggestive of doping but is not conclusive proof of wrong doing, as exposure to hypoxic conditions and even normal variants can also lead to high readings. Therefore, the only way to punish a rider who has tested abnormally high is to suspend them for "health" reasons. I don't think it's known at which hematocrit a highly conditioned athlete will develop complications due to blood hyperviscosity, so I think there may be an element of using the "health risk" argument as a justification to get riders who are probably doped out of competition.

my 2 cents
 

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Hematocrit levels can be can be influenced by posture i.e. a blood sample taken while the athlete has been standing can give a higher reading than an athlete who has been sitting down. The difference may be up to 1.5%.

Being dehydrated can elevate your hematocrit level.

Last year a British pro riding for a European team returned a hematocrit level above 50% he proved that he had a naturaly high level due to having his spleen removed after a motorbike accident some years earlier.

Altitude training can increase your hematocrit level.

The Australian Intitute of sport has done extensive research, over the last 15 years, which shows that as many as 3.5% of elite athletes have hematocrit levels above 50%.
 
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