UCI deplores leak of Tour doping 'suspicion index'

May 13, 2011 - 4:59 PM

PARIS (AP) — Cycling's governing body condemned the leak Friday of a confidential document that ranks riders at last year's Tour de France on a scale of doping suspicion, saying the list does not "under any circumstances prejudge the possible guilt" of any competitors.

French sports daily L'Equipe published what it said was UCI's "index of suspicion" for all 198 riders from the 2010 Tour on a grade of zero to 10, with 10 the highest level of suspicion and zero the lowest.

"The UCI deplores the leak," UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told The Associated Press by telephone. "The list exists, yes. We haven't hidden that."

Two riders were listed at 10 — Carlos Barredo of Spain and Yaroslav Popovych of Ukraine, one of Lance Armstrong's RadioShack teammates; one at 9 — Denis Menchov of Russia; and several more at 8, including Jurgen Van Den Broeck, Belgium. Most of the riders scored below 4.

Armstrong and teammate Levi Leipheimer were listed at 4, while another teammate, Christopher Horner, got a zero.

The ratings were based on readings drawn from each rider's biological passport profile before the Tour, including the latest blood tests on July 1, two days before the start of the race.

Carpani said the list was meant as a "working tool" to support the drug-testing process.

"It is essential to note that the list published by L'Equipe ... is liable to be interpreted in an incorrect and prejudicial manner," the UCI said in a statement, adding that the article "cannot under any circumstances prejudge the possible guilt of the persons whose names appear on the list.

"Whatever the assessment of the appropriateness of testing a specific rider," the UCI added, "the list does not justify any suspicion or condemnation."

Most of the riders scored below 4, including 49 at 0.

Last year's winner, Alberto Contador, was listed at 5.

Contador was the only rider who tested positive during last year's race. He blamed the positive clenbuterol on eating contaminated beef and was cleared by the Spanish cycling federation. Contador's case is currently under appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"The UCI deplores and strongly condemns the breach of confidentiality which allowed this list to be sent to the press," the cycling body said. "A leak of this kind is highly irresponsible and unacceptable."

The UCI said it was consulting with the World Anti-Doping Agency to open an investigation into the leak.

Riders reacted angrily to the existence of the list and demanded an explanation from the UCI.

"I'm all for catching cheats but draw the line at this sort of thing which could be based on 1 single wayward statistic," Australian rider Robbie McEwen, a former three-time green jersey sprint champion on the Tour, said on Twitter. "And who leaked it??"

Sprint champion Mark Cavendish of Britain, a multiple sprint-stage winner at the Tour, also expressed his view on Twitter.

"So there's a leaked 1-10 'suspicion' scale for all 2010 TourDeFrance riders," he said. "So now EVERYONE'S suspicious, but just HOW suspicious?!"

The UCI said blood tests are carried out on all riders before every major tour, with the results and biological profiles used to determine the testing plans during the race.

"The system enables anti-doping tests to be targeted more effectively and ... the fight against doping as a whole to be enhanced," the UCI said.

Tour race director Christian Prudhomme said the existence of such a list only serves to underline how seriously the fight against doping is being taken in cycling.

"It's because cycling is a forerunner (in the fight against doping) that there is a list," Prudhomme said. "There is no secret index. There is a list made by one of the only three international federations that uses the biological passport. A tool, certainly a plus, in the fight against doping."

Former Cofidis rider Cedric Vasseur, who was president of the riders' union before resigning two years ago, mocked the UCI on his Twitter account.

"I guess next year UCI will indicate the risk level of each rider on his bike with an "Approved by UCI" stamp... Same for the Team cars..," he said.

Vasseur was banned from the 2004 Tour while under investigation for suspected doping and later cleared.

The list was handed to UCI anti-doping officials at the race, as well as drug-testing observers from WADA. WADA confirmed to the AP that its observers had received the list from the UCI during the race.

Scores of 0 and 1 on the UCI list indicated riders who were considered to have extremely clean records, according to L'Equipe, while rankings between 2 and 4 were based on passport profiles that fluctuated at a specific time but were otherwise normal.

Scores ranging from 6 to 10 indicated a high level of circumstantial evidence pointing to potential doping because of a recurrence of fluctuations in passport profiles or alleged doping at previous races such as the Giro d'Italia and Spanish Vuelta, L'Equipe said.

One example of a fluctuating passport profile is a sudden drop in hemoglobin in the weeks leading up to the Tour. This constitutes circumstantial evidence, because it could indicate a rider extracting his own blood and then reinjecting it to boost performance.

Variations in hematocrit levels were also monitored, a standard part of anti-doping procedures in cycling.

The following is a list of the top 10 finishers in last year's Tour. In parentheses is their ranking in the UCI list published in L'Equipe based on a score of 0 to 10:

1. Alberto Contador, Spain, Astana, (5)

2. Andy Schleck, Luxembourg, Team SaxoBank, (3)

3. Denis Menchov, Russia, Rabobank, (9)

4. Samuel Sanchez, Spain, Euskaltel-Euskadi, (4)

5. Jurgen Van Den Broeck, Belgium, Omega Pharma-Lotto, (8)

6. Robert Gesink, Netherlands, Rabobank, (1)

7. Ryder Hesjedel, Canada, Garmin-Transitions, (1)

8. Joaquin Rodriguez, Spain, Katusha, (3)

9. Roman Kreuziger, Czech Republic, Liquigas-Doimo, (3)

10. Christopher Horner, United States, Team RadioShack, (0)

Other riders of note:

13. Levi Leipheimer, United States, RadioShack (4)

16. Alexandr Vinokourov, Kazakhstan, Astana, (5)

23. Lance Armstrong, United States, RadioShack, (4)

24. Bradley Wiggins, Britain, Team Sky, (5)

26. Cadel Evans, Australia, BMC Racing, (4)

41. Carlos Barredo, Spain, Quick Step, (10)

85. Yaroslav Popovych, Ukraine, RadioShack, (10)

121. Fabian Cancellara, Switzerland, SaxoBank, (0)

150. Alessandro Petacchi, Italy, Lampre-ISD, (6)

154. Mark Cavendish, Britain, HTC Colombia, (2)

158. David Millar, Britain, Garmin-Transitions, (4)