UCI defends doping 'suspicion index'

GENEVA -- Cycling's governing body pledged Tuesday to find the source who leaked a confidential document ranking cyclists on a scale of doping suspicion, but defended the list as an essential tool in the effort against drug cheats.

UCI president Pat McQuaid said it was "regrettable" the French sports daily L'Equipe had published what it described as an "index of suspicion" grading all 198 riders from last year's Tour de France on a scale from zero to 10.

"I am fully aware of the anger and strong reactions that the publication has generated, and I can tell you that I was angry as well," McQuaid wrote in an open letter on the UCI website. "I can confirm that the International Cycling Union is taking steps in order to open a judicial inquiry into the source of this leak, without further delay."

The ratings, with 10 the highest level and zero the lowest, were based on readings from each rider's biological passport profile before the Tour, including the latest blood tests two days before the start of the 2010 race.

The 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.

McQuaid defended the use of the list, published Friday by L'Equipe, for internal purposes.

"I understand the discontent of the riders and their entourage about the leak, which I also consider as completely unacceptable, but I frankly find it difficult to share their surprise and indignation at the content of the document where it is also taking into account the data of the blood passport," he wrote.

"Our objective has never been to create lists of suspects, but rather to provide ourselves with the most effective tool possible to optimize our resources -- which are not unlimited -- as well as to ensure the effectiveness of our approach."

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 of Belgium. Most of the riders scored below 4.

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

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

Contador was the only rider who tested positive during the 2010 race. The Spaniard blamed his positive test for clenbuterol on eating contaminated beef and was cleared by the Spanish cycling federation. His case is currently under appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.