Between medical treatment and performance enhancement: An investigation of how elite athletes experience Therapeutic Use Exemptions



Overbye M & Wagner U (2013) Between medical treatment and performance enhancement: An investigation of how elite athletes experience Therapeutic Use Exemptions. International Journal of Drug Policy, 24 (6), pp. 579-588.

Background: have a medical condition. If so, a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) is required. The boundaries between the use of pharmacological substances due to a medical need and doping are sometimes blurred. Although manipulating the system of TUE granting potentially represents an entry stage for doping, few studies examine how athletes perceive TUE management and relate this to current anti-doping policy.Athletes can be allowed to use substances from the prohibited list (the doping list) if they  Methods: questionnaire about their experience and perception of TUE (response rate: 43%).645 Danish elite athletes (mean age 22.12, SD = 5.82) representing 40 sports completed a webbased  Results: of the TUE system as necessary to compete on equal terms with other athletes. Administrative hurdles for TUE prevented 7% of athletes from applying. 53% of the athletes considered that being “allowed” to dope by means of a TUE was of importance for their (hypothetical) wish to try out doping. 51% believed that athletes in their sport received TUEs without a medical need. Athletes granted TUEs had more than twice as high odds to distrust the efficacy of the system than athletes never granted a TUE. The belief that TUEs were misused was especially common among endurance athletes, regardless of them having experience with TUEs or not. 4% believed it would be okay to receive a TUE without a medical need.19% of the respondents had been granted a TUE. 85% of athletes granted a TUE regarded their use  Conclusion: administration increases once an athlete has experience of TUEs represents a challenge for anti-doping policy. We suggest more critical research on TUEs be carried out in order to improve harmonization and increase transparency in the regulations.The results confirm that TUE is a problem in anti-doping policy. The fact that distrust in TUE

World Anti-Doping Code; Sports medicine; Doping; WADA; Athletes’ attitudes; Survey

International Journal of Drug Policy: Volume 24, Issue 6

Publication date30/11/2013
Publication date online09/04/2013
Date accepted by journal11/03/2013

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Dr Marie Overbye
Dr Marie Overbye

Lecturer in Sport Management, Sport