One of the many issues and discussion points in doping is the use of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) by athletes. It’s been more of a talking point after the Fancy Bears’ leaks though so we thought it would be a good time to take a look at the topic and discuss its impact on canoeing / kayaking.
What are TUEs?
If an athlete needs to take a medicine for an illness, but the medicine is prohibited by the World Anti Doping Agency, WADA, (the agency that sets and monitors anti doping policy around the world) then they can apply to get permission to use the medicine. Generally the application is done through their National Governing Body. A doctor has to say they are genuinely in need of the medication and sign off on it, and they must fulfil all four of the below criteria :
- The athlete would experience significant health problems without taking the prohibited substance or method
- The therapeutic use of the substance would not produce significant enhancement of performance
- There is no reasonable therapeutic alternative to the use of the otherwise prohibited substance or method
- The requirement to use that substance or method is not due to the prior use of the substance or method without a TUE which was prohibited at the time of use.
If you need emergency treatment then you can receive it and then apply for a retroactive TUE after the treatment (to make sure athletes aren’t going to start turning down necessary treatments or anything crazy). This is all in place to try and make sure that the TUEs are used to keep athletes healthy but not provide any advantage to those receiving them. However, the world of sport has shown again and again that people will try and push boundaries and take advantages where they can find them.
Can TUEs be abused?
If you’re allowed to apply to take drugs that are normally banned because they can be performance enhancing then there’s an obvious follow on that maybe you can take them for precisely those performance benefits… Continue reading