Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
To log onto social media to headlines of accusations that I have taken ‘banned substances’ is a feeling I would never have had to imagine would ever happen, as well as feeling violated that my personal and confidential medical records have been leaked world wide, has caused feelings of frustration and disappointment. My private medical records should indeed be ‘private’, but I am almost thankful their content was leaked as it shows I have absolutely nothing to hide and gives me the opportunity to show that I am a clean athlete.
I was prescribed an inhaler in 2010 for entirely legitimate reasons and required a TUE; to which there is a very rigorous, robust process carried out by specialist medical practitioners. If people want to try and draw any sort of link from this instance 6 years ago to me winning Olympic Gold in Rio 2016, then good luck to them.
This amounts to a pathetic attempt to smear me personally and Team GB as a whole. I believe in clean sport, only clean sport and always will.
What I am concerned about though is what the public perception of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (or TUEs as they are more commonly known), may have become over the past few days. These data leaks and headlines are making people who don’t understand the process or what TUE stands for, think they are in some ways a licence to cheat… They are not.
I am greatly concerned the next generation of athletes could turn TUEs down because they have now become so tarnished through these stories that they are almost ‘dirty words’. My real worry going forward is in future Olympic cycles there will be a hockey girl like me, chasing her Olympic Dream and pushing her body to its limit in that plight. She will become out of breath due to asthma, and will need an inhaler; not to get an unfair sporting advantage, but to breathe. To make sure she does not die. Yet she will think twice about using one, or perhaps use it and feel guilty about doing so, or worst still, refuse to use it completely.
These type of stories, framed as ‘leaks’ to give them an air of mystery or the idea that an athlete has been rumbled, only serve to make people up and down the country question their athletes and quantify their seemingly super-human efforts as exactly that, super-human, or impossible without cheating. TUEs aren’t about cheating, they are essential, sometimes even life saving medical practices and should be viewed as such. Anything other than this is letting the hackers win, letting them undermine our athletes and Team GB as a whole; and the subsequent ripple effect of this for future athletes could be horrendous.
At the end of the day, I am a clean athlete and whilst my initial reaction of having my medical data leaked was anger; it is in many ways a shame that after digesting it, I am almost thankful their content was leaked as it shows I have absolutely nothing to hide; as opposed to having a headline ‘Samantha Quek used unknown TUE prior to Olympic Gold’ out there with people jumping to conclusions, despite the practice of using TUEs being a fully legitimate one. What a shame it has come to that for me?
• This media statement was originally published on Sam Quek’s Facebook page. You can access the original by clicking here.
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