Amgen sponsors bike race

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005
By Yokota Fritz

This news has been all over the planet but in case you haven't caught it yet: Amgen, the biopharmaceutical that manufacturers synthetic erythropoietin or EPO, is the title sponsor for the Tour of California.

Cyclists throughout the United States have already been eagerly anticipating this U.S. tour, but I think getting Amgen signed as the title sponsor is a stroke of public relations genius. What better way to generate some buzz than to pull something like this?

Synthetic EPO manufactured by Amgen is one of the most widely abused performance enhancers in endurance sports. The hormone is produced naturally by the kidneys and acts on bone marrow to trigger red blood cell production. Stimuli such as bleeding and high altitude trigger the release of EPO.

Amgen's products are used legally to boost red blood cell production during cancer treatment and kidney dialysis and illegally to boost red blood cell production to enhance athletic performance.

The Amgen Tour of California is a USA Cycling sanctioned event and will debut next February. The eight-day, 700 mile event will start in San Francisco and end in Thousand Oaks, CA.

VeloNews: EPO maker to back California Tour
USA Today: EPO drug maker backs cycling race
Amgen Tour of California website.

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