Pat McQuaid writes open letter to riders over l’Equipe’s publication of the “Index of Suspicion”
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pat McQuaid writes open letter to riders over l’Equipe’s publication of the “Index of Suspicion”

by Ben Atkins at 12:32 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
 
UCI president expresses anger and confirms judicial enquiry over leaked documents

pat mcquaidPat McQuaid, the president of the International Cycling Union (UCI) has written an open letter to “all riders and team members” over the article published in French sports daily l’Equipe last week that detailed what it referred to as the UCI’s “Index of Suspicion”. According to the article, the UCI had rated riders’ “doping risk” out of ten, relating to their biological passport and a control taken the day before last year’s Tour de France.

Carlos Barredo and Yaroslav Popvych were both apparently rated as ten out of ten, while zeroes included Fabian Cancellara, Chris Horner, Dave Zabriskie Nicolas Roche and French champion Thomas Voeckler.

The UCI reacted angrily to the publishing of the list last week, which immediately pointed the finger of suspicion at those with high ratings. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has since confirmed that it is to open an investigation into the source of the leak, while a number of riders have also expressed anger over the article.

Not all riders took the article as serious as others though; British time trial champion Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) was allegedly listed as five out of ten, while his teammate, and British road champion Geraint Thomas was allegedly a six.

“There's no way geraintthomas86’s love handle is scored bigger than mine?? Bonkers,” joked Wiggins via his Twitter page.

As well as expressing his anger at the leak, and confirming that investigations are under way, McQuaid also goes on to explain the rationale for the UCI’s drawing up of the list, and the different factors that a were taken into account when assigning each rider his rating.

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The full text of McQuaid’s letter is as follows:

I write to you following last week’s regrettable disclosure of confidential information in the French daily newspaper l’Equipe, under the title “UCI’s secret list”.

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.

I can confirm that the International Cycling Union is taking steps in order to open a judicial enquiry into the source of this leak, without further delay.

Furthermore, the UCI offered its full support to the independent investigation launched by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and I trust that we will soon discover how these events occurred and identify the individuals responsible.

In addition, management of the UCI anti-doping and legal departments are reviewing the security procedures put in place to guarantee the confidentiality of information in order to check if and where they might be improved.

With this I wanted to inform you of the steps being taken and to reassure you of the UCI's utter determination to resolve this very delicate situation.

However we cannot undo the facts and I am very sorry for those who now feel directly affected by this disclosure.

But let us also examine the core issue. Why draw up a list such as this? What does it mean to be included on the list? How should the information that the list contains be interpreted?

It is essential to understand that this is not a list that indicates degrees of suspicion of doping, but a working document that establishes an order of priority for carrying out doping tests.

This priority list is drawn up on the basis of different elements that may be useful to identify priorities when conducting a testing programme on a group of 200 riders: it is not possible to test all of them ten times, so a list of priorities has to be established based upon a number of indications and not upon coincidence or discretion. Such indications are: the raw data of the haematological profile in the blood passport (so without taking into account whichever explanation for such data), the circumstance whether the rider has been tested recently and how often, sporting considerations (results, ranking, race programme, ambition, objectives). Bringing all this information together allowed the creation of the list.

We have all recognised the value of the biological passport on many occasions. Those involved in the fight against doping have all welcomed the extraordinary possibilities that targeting offers compared with traditional controls. The global sporting community as a whole applauded this new approach, which it considered to be optimal and at the cutting edge. Some of you even pleaded that the blood passport should be used as targeting instrument only.

Once again 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. Team managers – you will be well aware of the programme to which you have largely contributed the financing. Riders – you are the only individuals able to access, at any time, all the analysis results of your profile, as recorded in your biological passport.

I have introduced these issues into the discussion because I am increasingly convinced that the basis for the success of an innovative programme such as the biological passport is the individual responsibility of each rider and the collective responsibility of each team.

So riders and teams must not be indignant at the blood passport being used to the maximum of its possibilities, bearing in mind that at the stage of the priority list the passport data are no evidence of whatever (which is the reason why the document is confidential).

Our objective has never been to create lists of suspects, but rather to provide ourselves with the most effective tool possible to optimise our resources - which are not unlimited - as well as to ensure the effectiveness of our approach. The battle against doping has, for a long time, been a priority for the UCI, even to the extent that it could sometimes be considered to be over emphasised in our sport. Yet it must be admitted that the reality of the situation does not allow us to act otherwise.

I make no apologies for the fact that UCI will continue to take every measure possible to protect clean athletes. Our objective, shared by many of you, is a doping free cycling, one where the values of ethics and fair play are cherished.

I hope that these explanations will assist you to reach an objective judgment of a situation that is undeniably disagreeable. You will receive as soon as possible more information about this subject.

Please accept my kindest regards.

Pat McQuaid
UCI President

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