Paris - Denis Menchov, Andreas Kloden and Michael Rogers are among a "secret" list of 40 riders who warranted special attention from anti-doping controllers at last year's Tour de France, a report said on Friday.
French sports daily L'Equipe said a "secret" list was created by the International Cycling Union (UCI) after blood samples taken two days before last year's race were compared with evidence already available on the riders' biological passports.
According to the newspaper, the list was created by Pierre-Edouard Sottas, a doping specialist with the International Olympic Committee-accredited (IOC) laboratory in Lausanne who now works for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
The UCI created the list in a bid to ascertain which riders may or may not have been using banned substances or methods in the run-up to the three-week epic.
Based on the comparison of the 198 blood samples taken on July 1, 2010 with blood parameters that go back several months, as far as 2008, the list puts the entire Tour peloton into 11 categories, from zero to 10.
Those in the five lower categories warranted barely any scrutiny, with perhaps only one biological parameter giving scientists reason for concern, according to the paper.
The samples of riders in category five warranted "precise, and sometimes more affirmative commentary" from scientists, said the report, suggesting they may have been involved in some kind of manipulation.
Those in categories six and above (6-10) showed "overwhelming" evidence of some kind of doping, due to "recurring anomalies", "enormous variations" in parameters, and even the "identification of doping products or methods", according to L'Equipe.
By far the biggest name in the top echelons is Russia's Menchov, a former Giro d'Italia winner who finished third overall in last year's Tour de France.
The Geox team rider is in category nine, just behind Spaniard Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) and Ukrainian Yaroslav Popovych (Radio Shack), who occupy top spot in category 10.
Among the big names in category eight are Australia's Matthew Lloyd, who is currently without a team, and Belgian Jurgen Van den Broeck (Omega-Pharma), who was aiming for a top-10 finish in last year's Tour.
Kloden (Radio Shack), fellow German Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia) and Australia's Rogers (HTC-Columbia, now Team Sky) are the three biggest names in six-strong category seven.
German Linus Gerdemann and Welshman Geraint Thomas (both Team Sky), join Italy's Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) as the three biggest names in seven-strong category six.
Reigning Tour de France champion Alberto Contador of Spain (Saxo Bank) is by far the most high-profile name in the 15-strong category five, which also features Italian Alessandro Ballan (BMC), Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) and England's Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky).
The paper noted that the scores attributed to each rider "did not constitute proof" of any doping or wrongdoing.
On a more positive note, the report suggested that 156 riders from the 198-strong peloton showed "little or no risk" of doping, with only 42 riders among the top five "suspect" categories.
Briton Mark Cavendish reacted angrily on his Twitter feed on Friday.
"So there's a leaked 1-10 'suspicion' scale for all 2010 TourDeFrance riders. So now EVERYONE'S suspicious, but just HOW suspicious?!" he wrote.
Australian Robbie McEwen added on Twitter: "I'm all for catching cheats but draw the line at this sort of thing which could be based on 1 single wayward statistic. And who leaked it??