The organization representing professional cyclists said Friday its members were concerned about the release of internal documents from the UCI that ranked the level of suspicion of riders competing in the 2010 Tour de France.
The French sports daily, L’Equipe published a list of all riders competing in the Tour, in which they were ranked on a scale of zero to ten, based on the level of suspicion their pre-race blood samples raised among anti-doping officials.
In a statement issued Friday, the Association International des Groupes Cyclistes Professionels (AIGCP) said the selective release of such information can be damaging to the sport, particularly when it isn’t viewed in the context in which the document was prepared.
While expressing support for the Biological Passport and concept of targeted testing when a rider’s medical profile indicates cause for concern, the AIGCP said such additional scrutiny can just as easily result in a rider being cleared than found to be in violation.
While not directly attributing fault to the management of the UCI for the release of the material, the AIGCP called for a thorough investigation to discover the source of the leak.
The following is a full text of the AIGCP statement in response to L’Equipe’s publication of an “index of suspicion:”
The AIGCP believes that targeted testing is a vital tool but the leak of this information is extremely damaging to the efforts cycling has made in anti-doping. It is counterproductive to those efforts for several reasons:
1. The whole point of the biological passport, which we support, is to help put blood values in context. While it is correct to focus on athletes with unusual blood values, that focus can prove an athlete’s guilt as well as confirm their innocence. The release of this information does not provide that context.
2. Levels of targeting occur due to performances, not just blood values. The UCI informed the teams of this in Geneva. So, a rider may have a higher index simply because they are riding unusually well, and not because of any hematological parameter. So, being “targeted” is not necessarily indicative of doping.
3. Blood values can fluctuate due to many different factors, for example- illness and bruising from a crash. The leak of this confidential medical information leaves the interpretation of those values open to the whole world, instead of in the hands of the experts.
4. The release of this information not only damages the reputation of the innocent, but potentially provides the ability for others to avoid detection.
While we favor better anti-doping and greater transparency, we only favor these with the consent of the athlete, as human and privacy rights are critical. Releasing private and subjective information without the consent of the individual is wrong.
The fact this list was somehow released shows a lack of security with the sport’s anti-doping officials. This breach in security should not and will not be tolerated by the teams and athletes. The firm expectation of the AIGCP is that the UCI will determine who is responsible for this egregious breach of confidentiality and that the responsible party will be dealt with immediately and appropriately.