January 24, 2013
Hein Verbuggen (left), pictured with Kofi Annan and Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Dubai, is engaged in a significant dispute with the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Ali Haider/EPA

MONTREAL (AP) The World Anti-Doping Agency disputes a claim by former cycling federation leader Hein Verbruggen that discussing suspicious doping samples with athletes was the normal practice in sports.

It highlights the growing gulf between the doping watchdog and the International Cycling Union following the Lance Armstrong case.

"This approach totally contradicts the purpose of an effective anti-doping program," WADA said on Thursday of Verbruggen's claim, adding that a governing body's policy should be "designed to deter, detect and prevent athletes from doping."

"WADA has no evidence of other international federations `discussing atypical blood test results, or other test results' with athletes," the agency said in a statement

Verbruggen, the UCI president from 1991-2005, claimed on Wednesday it was the governing body's former policy and "indeed also of other federations."

"Riders who were doping (but who had yet to fail a test) were effectively warned that they were being watched and that they would be targeted in future with the aim of getting them to stop doping," he said in Vrij Nederland magazine.

WADA has criticized the UCI for arranging for Armstrong to meet with a laboratory director in 2002 after he gave doping tests with suspicious levels of EPO, a banned blood booster.

Verbruggen defended the UCI's former policy of issuing warnings as part of a "two-pronged attack" by catching those who cheated, but also dissuading riders from doping.

WADA questioned the values behind that policy.

"Any (federation) that would do such a thing would leave itself open to criticism with regards to its impartiality and integrity," the Montreal-based organization said.

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