>The World Anti-Doping Agency wants to know who leaked cycling’s “index of suspicion” to a French newspaper.
WADA announced Sunday it will launch an independent investigation into the leak of one of the International Cycling Union’s internal documents that ranked riders at last year’s Tour de France on a scale of doping suspicion.
The list caused outrage among many riders, who felt any rating but zero — no suspicion — on the 0-to-10 scale makes them look like drug cheats.
The UCI had already started its own investigation.
Director general David Howson said WADA wants to make sure it was not the source of the list that appeared Friday in the all-sports newspaper l’Equipe.
“If there’s any suggestion there would be a leak coming from us I wanted it investigated immediately,” Howson said, at the conclusion of a two-day meeting of WADA’s executive committee and foundation board. “It’s a principle we stand on and something we want to make sure is stopped immediately.
“I don’t think there’s any possibility there was a WADA person involved. I’ve already conducted an initial inquiry as soon as I received a phone call to suggest it might have come from us. I just can’t stand that sort of thing. Let’s wait to see what comes out.”
The list which l’Equipe called the “index of suspicion” rates professional cyclists on how likely they feel they are to be using banned substances.
It was based on blood tests taken just before the 2010 Tour de France and the athletes’ biological passports, a record of their test history, and was intended to target the most suspicious for extra testing.
Many sports and athletic events such as the Olympics use targeted testing, but it is the first time a list has been made public. A UCI statement said suspicion does not imply guilt and that it “deplores and strongly condemns this breach of confidentiality.”
Some riders have threatened court action, saying the list is defamatory.
Howson also condemned the leak.
“There’s the fundamental issue of confidentiality, which we are bound to protect, and we owe that to athletes, otherwise athletes start losing confidence in the system,” he said. “I think the information in the report can be misconstrued in a way that is not fair, and therefore if someone is outraged, I can understand it.
“But I think there needs to be a little bit of calm so at least the principle issue can be addressed, the one relating to a leak, and then we can deal with the substance if necessary.”
Of the 198 athletes on the list, 156 were rated five or lower, with most at either zero or one.
Yaroslav Popovych of Ukraine and Spanish rider Carlos Barrero both rated 10, but the best-known cyclist rated high was former Italian Giro winner Denis Menchov of Russia at nine. Menchov was third at the Tour de France.
Two Canadians who participated in the race were also listed. Victoria’s Ryder Hesjedal, who rides for Garmin-Transitions, received a one. Toronto’s Michael Barry, who is with Sky Procycling, was a zero.
Howson would not comment on WADA’s decision to go the Court for Arbitration in Sport to appeal the Spanish cycling federation’s decision to absolve three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador of a positive test for the banned muscle-builder clenbuterol.
Contador said he inadvertently ingested the substance while eating contaminated beef. He avoided a two-year suspension.
The growing sport of mixed martial arts has so far not signed on with WADA, but conducts testing at its events. WADA president John Fahey said they are open to working with MMA organizations like UFC in the same voluntary manner they work with major league team sports in North America.
“It’s a privately owned sport, it’s not government controlled or funded, so we’re little we can do other than extend the invitation to them, if they wish to take advantage of what we may be able to assist them with,” he said.
When local state or provincial fight commissions do not do post-fight tests, UFC conducts its own tests. Marc Ratner, UFC’s vice-president for regulatory affairs, said that was the case in recent UFC shows in Canada.
“We used a lab in Montreal for our Toronto show and all tests came back negative for PEDs as well as illegal street drugs,” he said, adding that the Vancouver lab will be used for tests at an upcoming card in that city.
WADA also outlined plans for closer co-operation with police agencies around the world in the fight against doping.
Fahey called it a guideline rather a formal document, but it showed how working with law enforcement agencies has helped, including the seizure of doping items at the 2006 Winter Olympics and in the BALCO steroids case in the United States.