WADA expert defends exemptions system


The head of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s panel overseeing therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) defended the system on Thursday, rejecting suggestions athletes were manipulating rules in order to take banned substances.

David Gerrard, the chairman of WADA’s TUE Expert Group, said criticism of the system used to issue exemptions in the wake of the “Fancy Bear” hacking revelations was misplaced.

Reports of an “upsurge” in applications for TUEs by athletes were “a reflection of growing stakeholder compliance … rather than exploitation of any loophole to circumvent a legitimate process,” Gerrard said.

“The overwhelming majority of applications for therapeutic use exemption are in full accordance with WADA clinical standards …,” Gerrard added in a summary released by WADA.

“The integrity of this process remains fundamental to the spirit of clean sport and has not been represented accurately by recent media reports following the hacking of WADA files.”

TUEs are sought by athletes needing to ingest substances, in certain circumstances such as a medical emergency, which are normally banned under WADA rules.

The system for granting exemptions has come under scrutiny however in the wake of the Fancy Bear hacking of WADA’s database.

Files released by the group revealed dozens of TUE applications by prominent athletes, but did not show any evidence of wrongdoing.

British cyclist Bradley Wiggins has been at the epicentre of the controversy after files showed the multiple Olympic champion had been granted a TUE for the powerful corticosteroid triamcinolone, which he was permitted to take just days before the 2012 Tour de France, which he won, as well as the 2011 Tour and the 2013 Giro d’Italia.

Wiggins said he needed the drug to help control his asthma.

The British star has vehemently denied wrongdoing, rejecting claims he was trying to gain an “unfair advantage” through the injections.

“I’ve been a life-long sufferer of asthma and I went to my team doctor at the time and we went, in turn, to a specialist to see if there’s anything else we could do to cure these problems,” Wiggins said.

“This was about putting myself back on a level playing-field in order to compete at the highest level,” he added.

© 2016 AFP

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