Should USATF archive masters TUEs the way it does proof of age?

A masters friend writes: “In a country where drug usage is rampant and almost anyone can get a doctor to write an exemption, it sure seems that an obvious extension of drug testing would be requiring athletes with TUEs [therapeutic use exemptions] to record their exemption with some coordinating body and that a list of these records would be available to all masters. It would be similar to requiring documentation of age when applying to compete in the worlds or applying for records.” This issue might arise at the USATF annual meeting starting Wednesday in Dayton Beach, I’m told. My friend adds: “It might be interesting to see the views of people on your blog.” I worry about privacy—having your medications available for anyone, including employers, to see. Can of worms.

My friend replied to my concerns:

“People choose to compete. And as you know, I am a strong believer in showing flexibility for masters’ athletes who need to take drugs for their well-being and still want to compete. But as a strong believer in openness, I would think that athletes with legitimate TUEs would have no problem with their competitors knowing their situation. I realize that withholding records for anyone using a TUE is controversial, but it seems like something that should be discussed. It would also be educational for us to have some idea of how widespread this use of these exemptions are.”

Good points. Your thoughts?

Meanwhile, check out the formal report — 199 pages long — for Daytona Beach.

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November 26, 2012

8 Responses

  1. Anonymous - November 27, 2012

    Ken, you hit the nail on the head. Privacy. Perhaps some would have no problem with competitors knowing the details of their TUE, but what about parties outside our competitive area? Specifically employers. Lets have someone with more knowledge to weigh in on the potential for HIPAA violations. I wouldn’t object to other athletes having general knowledge of my TUE but having my medical records available for online scrutiny crosses the line.

  2. Mary Harada - November 27, 2012

    Such a plan would invade the privacy of all masters who submit a TUE. Personally I do not really care as I am retired and feel no sense of shame about having obtained a TUE for a number of years for an asthma inhaler. But others may not wish to have their medical issues a matter of public scrutiny.
    I would also point out that the medications on the TUE list change from year to year. An asthma medication used in an inhaler required a TUE for many years. About 2 years ago that requirement was dropped and a TUE is no longer required. Apparently those in charge of such things came to realize that the amount of medication one gets from a doctor prescribed dose does not constitute unfair performance enhancement. If one takes multiple puffs of said inhaler – that would be a violation – one also might collapse from the overdose too.
    I asked for and received a TUE for this particular medication for a number of years. Now it no longer requires a TUE – so – nothing to report or put on the “naughty”list of Tue holders.
    I find the notion of publication of TUE holders to be small minded and a sign that there are those who feel that anyone who takes any medication must somehow be cheating.
    A very bad idea indeed- elite athletes do not have the list of their TUE medication publicized for all to see do they? Fair game for those who fail a drug test – but not for those of us who play by the rules.

  3. Anthony Treacher - November 27, 2012

    A list of TUE holders competing at a particular meeting is a good idea. But publication/release of TUE information must be conditional to the TUE holder giving prior consent.

  4. Peter Crombie - November 28, 2012

    I would like to suggest that the issuance of TUE’s for masters athletes is a very good situation however like many things which are left to trust the situation can be abused. From reading the last discussions about drug taking in the US on this site it was very apparent that there is clearly a drug culture and many people still do not get the picture despite it being spelled out very clearly by many who responded.Many respondees thought it was quite OK to have drugs provided it was for the benefit of your health, well that is not the rules which are very clear.It seems that TUE’s can be readily obtained from your friendly medical practioner who may not be aware of the rules or is too busy to care. The TUE’s are apparently not checked by WMA and are accepted at face value and filed with the paperwork and that is the end of it.There is no attempt to check by them that the medication being used can be altered to something that does not require a TUE.Many TUE’s are in place and the person who requests one usually knows that they can in many cases assist performance.It would be very interesting to see the performance levels of people who have a TUE and compare their performances prior to the issuance. From my observation some recent medalists at world championships and in fact world record performances could be by people who now have a TUE. As the friends of these people see the improved performances and the ease of obtaining a TUE then there is the clear temptation as there is with all drug taking to do the same.I feel sure that this is not widespread now but if allowed to continue where no checking is made by WMA or the US peak body then the culture could easily develop. Posted by Anonymous

  5. SimonM - December 2, 2012

    Peter – you are dead right – most people don’t and won’t get it.

    I’m surprised that Ken has used the device of “a friend” to relaunch this one.

    Mary, the whole point of a TUE is to allow the use of drugs that are performance enhancing. WADA’s stance on inhalers changed after a task force investigation showed that at normal doses, inhalers do not enhance performance but simply allow athletes to compete. Of course to the more hardcore that IS an enhancement of performance, but there you go. Point being that the status of drugs – prohibited or conditional – changes when new evidence appears and the need for TUEs changes accordingly.

    The right to privacy is all very well, but as an athlete competing without the benefit of medication, should I have the right to know when I am competing against athletes who are TUE- , ie drug-aided? I think so. So how about this –

    1. Yes to a central (private ad secure) register,
    2. Anyone competing with a TUE is required to state that fact when entering an event – but they do not have to reveal what the drug is, unless they choose to.
    3. World records, world championship medal places, national records, national medallists – you can extend this list as far “down” as you like – are all “asterisked” in the results and records if the athlete has competed with a TUE.

  6. Anthony Treacher - December 2, 2012

    Right on Peter Crombie and SimonM. If I were a TUE-holder I would agree to my results being “asterisked.” What objection could there possibly be?

  7. Stephen Robbins - December 3, 2012

    SimonM–I was Ken’s “friend” who brought up this issue. I recognize the concern for privacy but believe that the previous suggestions to list athletes with TUES without stating the nature of the exemption and identifying championship medalists and WRs with asterisks would be a major step forward.

  8. SimonM - December 6, 2012

    Stephen! My apologies for thinking you were a “device” :)

    And thanks for your support of my motion!

    Oh and I suppose I better apologise to Ken, too: sorry Ken. It’s not that I was thinking you don’t have any friends, hahahahahahahaha

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