Cycling body reckons Canadian riders are no dopes
You can always count on the French sports daily l'Equipe to come up with interesting stuff – such as today's scoop on a list created by cycling's governing body (UCI) rating the doping risk of each rider in last year's Tour de France.
The good news for Canadian cycling fans is that our lads – Victoria's Ryder Hesjedal, who was a rousing seventh last year in cycling's most storied race, and Toronto's Michael Barry – are pretty much above suspicion, according to the UCI.
The ratings went from 0 to 10, with 0 being "no suspicion" and 10 being "very suspicious." It was based on the riders' biological passports, which are an electronic record of their doping results collected over the years, plus a doping control test taken the day before the Tour started. UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency then compared notes and targeted certain riders for more testing.
By contrast, the top five in last year's race had an average rating just a shade under 6/10. Here's how it broke down according to l'Equipe:
1) Alberto Contador, Spain 5/10
2) Andy Schleck, Lumxembourg 3/10
3) Denis Menchov, Russia 9/10
4) Samuel Sanchez, Spain 4/10
5) Jurgen Van den Broeck, Belgium 8/10
6) Robert Gesink, Netherlands 1/10
7) Ryder Hesjedal, Canada 1/10
Contador tested positive for the steroid clenbuterol when he provided a sample on a rest day during the Tour. He claimed it was because of contaminated beef and the Spanish cycling federation bought the excuse, though the Court of Arbitration for Sport will have the last word.
You might recall that Hesjedal finished fourth behind Contador among others on one of the sport's most grueling climbs, the Tourmalet. It was the best ride of his life and defined his Tour de Force performance.
Instead of Alberto beef, maybe Hesjedal was fueled by good ol' Alberta beef.
(The AP photo above shows Hesjedal greeting a Canadian well wisher at the end of last year's Tour.)