By Nigel Wynn
Several riders have reacted angrily to the publication of the Union Cycliste Internationale's 'doping suspicion index' for the 2010 Tour de France by French sports newspaper L'Equipe on Friday.
The index is a ranking compiled originally to help target riders for anti-doping controls during the 2010 Tour, and runs from zero to 10, where those ranked 10 are riders under the most suspicion of doping.
Yaroslav Popovych (Radioshack) and Carlos Barredo (then Quick Step, now Rabobank) were the only two riders to be given a score of 10, with Denis Menchov (Rabobank) being rated nine. A quarter of the riders (49 of 198) taking part in the race were ranked zero.
Values were ascertained using data from the UCI's biological passport anti-doping system where riders' blood and urine test values are studied throughout the season to pick up any anomalies that may reveal the use of doping. Inclusion higher up on the list does not mean that those riders have specifically failed an anti-doping test.
"Please explain UCI. Begs the question, intentional, incompetence or corruption??" said Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen (Radioshack) via Twitter.
"I'm all for catching cheats but draw the line at this sort of thing which could be based on 1 single wayward statistic. And who leaked it?", he continued.
Britain's Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) also gave his opinion on the list via Twitter: "So there's a leaked 1-10 'suspicion' scale for all 2010 Tour de France riders. So now EVERYONE'S suspicious, but just HOW suspicious?! BULLSHIT"
Robbie Hunter (Radioshack) said: "Great job by UCI to have confidential details of riders leaked to the press.. In my eyes that's a major problem.. Get ur house in order!"
Publication of the leaked list will be a major embarrassment to the UCI. Its existence was known, but having details of exactly how each rider was ranked has already caused an upset among riders, and not just those higher up on the scale.
After the 2010 Tour, independent World Anti-Doping Agency observers at the race noted that those riders high up on the UCI's suspicious list were either not tested at all or inadequately tested. "With the amount and high quality of intelligence available to the UCI, it is critical that in the future a more varied, targeted and aggressive approach to catching cheating riders be a priority for the UCI," the WADA independent observer report stated.
"The IO Team observed a number of occasions where a more aggressive approach to testing riders outside of the Post-Finish sessions should have been undertaken. It is one thing to allow clean riders the opportunity to rest in between the gruelling stages, but it is entirely another thing to allow riders with suspicious profiles, backed up by robust intelligence, the same opportunity."
So although the names of the most suspected riders are now out there, it appears as though little was done before and during the race to target them specifically. It has left riders, teams and fans wondering what ramifications the publication of the list may have on future anti-doping efforts. And individual riders' reputations.
WADA publishes critical report on Tour doping controls