Lord Sebastian Coe: Therapeutic use exemptions 'good system'

Lord Coe
Lord Coe says the IAAF imposes a "very deep process" before TUEs are granted to athletes

The head of athletics' world governing body Lord Coe has defended therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) - but admitted there is "potential" for exploitation.

TUEs can be issued to athletes who need to use medication on the World Anti-Doping Agency's (Wada) prohibited list.

Their use has become a talking point after stolen medical files from Wada's website were leaked by Russian hackers Fancy Bears.

"The TUEs system is a good system," Coe told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek.

"Do we have to make sure that it is not being abused? Yes, of course. There is potential for that, but I don't think it is commonly the case.

"Can the public have trust in it? Yes, I think they can, but it will need permanent vigilance."

Coe, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, said the organisation imposes a "very deep process" before TUEs are granted.

"We are very tough," the 59-year-old Briton said. "We log everything with Wada and, when a TUE is appropriate, they can come back and ask us for more information.

"TUEs are only given on the basis of an independent panel, it is not a general practitioner signing them off.

"It goes through a very deep process and we look to see if alternative treatments are available that would not collide with a substance on the banned list."

Coe, a double Olympic gold medallist, added: "I can't say whether in the past, or in the future, there haven't been some grey areas. But there should be some public trust for this system - and in athletics it is particularly robust."

Rio 2016 gold medallists Sir Bradley Wiggins, Laura Trott and Nicola Adams were among several British athletes named by Fancy Bears as having TUEs, as well as three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome.

There is no suggestion any of the athletes have done anything wrong.

What are therapeutic use exemptions?

Sir Bradley Wiggins was one of the athletes named by Fancy Bears as having a TUE
Sir Bradley Wiggins was one of the athletes named by Fancy Bears as having a TUE

A TUE allows an athlete, for medical reasons, to take a prescribed substance or undergo treatment that is otherwise prohibited.

British athletes must contact their national governing body or follow UK Anti-Doping guidance before applying for a TUE.

There are strict criteria for one to be granted:

  • The athlete would suffer significant health problems without taking the substance.
  • It would not be significantly performance-enhancing.
  • There is no reasonable therapeutic alternative to its use.
  • The need to use it is not due to prior use without a TUE.

Top Stories