WADA says athletes should not be required to publicly justify TUEs

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The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has made it clear athletes "should not be required to publicly justify therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs)" as it confirmed a further release of athletes' confidential data by the 'Fancy Bear' cyber-espionage group.

A host of athletes - including the Williams sisters, Simone Biles, Chris Froome, Bradley Wiggins and Robert Harting - have seen their private medical data released into the public domain in recent days.

There is no evidence of any wrongdoing by the sportspeople involved, with the hackers having disclosed instances where TUEs have been granted, enabling competitors to use medications for legitimate reasons. 

WADA confirmed the latest leak of confidential material on Friday and felt the need to comment specifically on "misinformation that is circulating in the media related to the purpose of TUEs".

A statement from the authority read: "The World Anti-Doping Agency confirms that, once again today, the cyber hacker Group 'Fancy Bear' released a batch of confidential athlete data on their website, which they illegally obtained from a Rio 2016 Olympic Games account of WADA's Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS).

"This time, they targeted 11 athletes that include three from Australia, one from Denmark, two from Germany, one from Spain and four from the United Kingdom - from the sports of boxing, cycling, rowing, shooting, swimming and tennis.

"Yet again, the leaked data relates to confidential therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) delivered by international sports federations (IFs) and national anti-doping organisations (NADOs). 

"In the group's initial data releases, which WADA commented upon earlier this week, they threatened to release more data over time; and so, while this is regrettably unsettling for all involved, it is not unexpected and we must be prepared for more.

"With this in mind, stakeholders should know that WADA is being consulted and taking action based on intelligence and advice from the very highest levels of international law enforcement; along with, top cyber security experts to ensure that the broader ADAMS remains secure. The agency is also in contact with the relevant NADOs and IFs whose athletes are impacted by this latest data release so that they can provide them with the necessary support.

"We take this opportunity to clarify misinformation that is circulating in the media related to the purpose of TUEs. In short, athletes may have illnesses or conditions that require a particular substance or method that appears on WADA's list of prohibited substances and methods.

"In such instances, they may be granted a TUE, which gives them permission to take a substance or use a method. TUEs are only granted by IFs, NADOs and major event organisers (MEOs) following a robust review process that is defined in the international standard for therapeutic use exemptions (ISTUE); and, evaluation by three physicians specialised in sports medicine and/or other relevant specialties. Granted TUEs are subject to further evaluation by the relevant ADOs and WADA.

"It is very unfortunate that athletes' TUEs are being debated publically on the basis of partial, confidential, medical information. Athletes should not be required to publicly justify their TUEs. The program is a rigorous and necessary part of elite sport; and, it has overwhelming acceptance from athletes, physicians and all anti-doping stakeholders."