Erythropoietin (Epo) represents for some athletes the ultimate tool to gain an edge over their peer competitors. Underground information indicates that its usage is spreading at an epidemic pace since no analytical technique is yet available to detect its utilization. We hereby report observations obtained from analysis of urine specimens collected from top-level athletes after international-calibre competitions. Possible Epo misuse was evaluted by the measurement of urine total degradation products (TDPs), excretory fragments attributed by Sakakibara et al. to the fibrinolytic action of Epo. Markedly elevated urine TDP levels were measured in more than 13% of the 76 top-level athletes evaluated in this study. Analyses of urine specimens from a control hockey player group and from out-of-competition resting subjects indicate that the urine TDP content is not significantly influenced by exercise per se. Solid confirmation of TDP measurement as a sound probe to detect illicit Epo users should come from controlled studies with concomitant administration of Epo.