29 September 2016

Independent Opinion from WADA’s TUE Expert Group

Regrettably, since 13 September 2016, the cyber espionage group “Fancy Bear” has been releasing batches of confidential athlete data related to Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs), which they illegally obtained from a Rio 2016 Olympic Games account of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)’s Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS).

This situation has led to a lot of discussion and misinformation related to the TUE program, which is a rigorous and necessary part of elite sport that has overwhelming acceptance from athletes, physicians and anti-doping stakeholders worldwide.

Pertinently, we received the following Opinion from the Chair of the Agency’s TUE Expert Group (TUE EG), Professor David Gerrard, which resulted from the Group’s meeting on 23 September 2016. Professor Gerrard asked that we share the Opinion with stakeholders, which reflects the views of the TUE EG and was written independent of any input from WADA staff.

The TUE EG would like to express the concerns of our group; while, at the same time, applaud the recent stand by the WADA Executive Committee to reinforce its leadership in the preservation of clean sport.

The TUE EG represents a significant body of international experience in clinical sports medicine across able bodied and Paralympic disciplines. As senior physicians we willingly contribute to this critical arm of the work of WADA, while recording our extreme gratitude for the work of the WADA Medical Director and his staff.

Our concern relates to the recent, widely publicized events that have brought the principles of therapeutic use exemption into disrepute and challenge the integrity of a process fundamental to the protection of the rights of honest athletes and their medical advisors.

With your approval, and at the discretion of the WADA Executive Committee, we respectfully request that the following sentiments are conveyed to relevant stakeholders.

  1. The WADA TUE Expert Group confirms its unequivocal support for the existing process by which athletes with genuine medical conditions may obtain appropriate clinical care and remain active in sport.
  2. 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.
  3. A reported “upsurge” of applications, to use medications that are prohibited through the TUE process, is a reflection of growing stakeholder compliance with ADAMS rather than exploitation of any loophole to circumvent a legitimate process.
  4. The overwhelming majority of applications for therapeutic use exemption are in full accordance with WADA clinical standards and the ISTUE.
  5. In addition to the current surveillance of TUE applications submitted to ADAMS, increased resources would allow a regular audit of TUE Committee composition and process. This audit would further enhance the credibility of the whole TUE process.

In conclusion, we wish to assure the Executive Committee that we fully endorse the efforts of WADA to maintain the integrity of sport, and our commitment to the same goal. As the only group within WADA comprised solely of physicians, we respectfully offer our expertise in helping to address the public concerns of the TUE process that is founded on good clinical practice and is in accordance with the ethics of our profession.

Thank you for receiving this communication.

Respectfully yours,

Professor David Gerrard
Chair, WADA TUE Expert Group

On behalf of the TUE Expert Group:

Dr Katharina Grimm (RSA)
Dr Ola Ronsen (NOR)
Dr Katja Mjosund (FIN)
Dr Susan White (AUS)
Dr James Kissick (CAN)
Dr Chin Sim Teoh (SIN)
Dr John Lombardo (USA)
Dr Michael Turner (UK)