According to news reports from Associated Press (AP), the President of Russia Vladimir Putin in a statement on Tuesday said that athletes who have therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) for banned substances get an unfair advantage in a competition and hence he suggested that these athletes who use TUEs must not be allowed to compete in the major competitions.
TUEs allow athletes to take substances which are otherwise on the banned list for their medical conditions. The use of the TUE has come under strict scrutiny after the recent hacking incident by Fancy Bears which released confidential World Anti-Doping Agency medical documents of many athletes.
Putin, while speaking at the sports forum in Russia, said that they must first decide what to do with TUEs. He feared that if they allowed people who have TUEs to compete for their country there might come a time when all medals and records would go to competitors who are ill or suffering from chronic illnesses.
Putin seemed to have pushed for restrictions against the athletes who use TUEs. He suggested the option of keeping these athletes in a separate category. Moreover, the Russian president was also in favour of considering the achievements, points, seconds and honours of the athletes who use TUEs in “special way”.
Reacting to Putin’s observations, Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, said that Putin’s suggestions are “laughable”. He pointed out that there was a broad consensus among all sporting nations to allow athletes to use medicines for “documented health needs” like birth control, acne, life-saving surgery or established Asthma. Tygart further added that none of the medicines gives any performance-enhancing advantage when used for the treatment of such conditions.
According to Tygart, Putin’s current stand either “shows a clear misunderstanding of the rules” or it may be an attempt to bring disrepute to innocent athletes around the world. Tygart feels that this can be Russia’s answer after the recent unravelling of Russia’s state-sponsored doping system which gave its athletes a tremendous edge as far as performance in games were concerned and also “corrupted the Sochi Olympic Games”.
Russian state-sponsored doping system was discovered by two different independent investigations. In one of the investigations, there was evidence that dirty Russian urine samples were exchanged for clean ones. This happened during the Sochi Olympic Games.
Later on Tuesday, the Russian President in a meeting with his sports officials said that TUEs should not be kept confidential but should be made public .This move has attracted severe uproar from the athletes. It could also face potential legal hurdles pertaining to the confidentiality of the medical records of the athletes.