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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 October 2005, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Miller 'surprised' EPO is illegal
Bode Miller
American Bode Miller is defending World Cup champion
American skier Bode Miller says he is "surprised" that erythropoietin (EPO) is illegal and believes it carries "minimal" health risks.

The 27-year-old, who won last year's World Cup series, argued the use of EPO could improve safety for skiers.

"It would make it safer because you'd have less chance of making a mistake," he told Ski Racing website.

Sarah Lewis, a spokesman for the International Ski Federation, later played down the comments.

"Bode is renowned for making off-the-wall-type statements," Lewis said.

"That he now sees himself as qualified to comment on regulations about doping is interesting, to say the least.

When your brain starts to slow down, it makes it damn hard to make decisions
Bode Miller

"Should those responsible for World Cup courses think athletes were making themselves overextended, there would be changes to the technical parts of the course, not the introduction of artificial methods or substances."

EPO is primarily used by endurance sportsmen to boost stamina.

And Miller believes it could even mean the difference between life and death at the end of a long ski run.

"You have to make four or five decisions every second in skiing, every turn. These are conscious decisions, plus there's another hundred that are instinct," he said.

"And when your brain starts to slow down, as if you're holding your breath for two minutes, it makes it damn hard to make those decisions."

Meanwhile, Miller has delayed his return to Europe for the Alpine ski racing season in order to stay at the bedside of his brother, who was critically injured in a motorcycle crash last week.

Miller still intends to compete in the season's opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on 23 October, and is now due to fly into Innsbruck on Thursday, several days later than originally planned.

His younger brother Chelone, 22, was in hospital after suffering "extensive head trauma" when his motorcycle crashed near the family home in New Hampshire last Thursday.

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