26 September 2016

US & Australia appear to lead world in approved TUEs

The United States and Australia appear to lead the world in terms of the number of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) granted to their athletes, analysis by The Sports Integrity Initiative has revealed. In its 2015 Annual Report, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) reported that the number of TUEs entered into its Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) increased 30% to 1,330 during 2015.

Of this total, 63% (839) came from just three countries – the US, Australia and France. Figures were taken from the annual reports of the National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs) in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Russia and the US. TUE figures for China, Denmark, South Africa and the UK were not available, as they do not appear to be published either in the annual report of the NADO concerned, or on their internet site. In UKAD’s case, this is because international athletes apply to their international federation for their TUE. The leading countries match those targeted by the Fancy Bears internet site, which has published TUEs accessed from the Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) database.

Last week, WADA explained a 48% increase in TUEs between 2014 and 2016 as being ‘purely a function of WADA’s Foundation Board decision of May 2016 to reinforce the mandatory requirement for Anti-Doping Organisations (ADOs) to enter all TUEs in WADA’s Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS), combined with the effect of the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics’. In its annual report, WADA explained the 30% increase in TUEs as ‘reflecting both increased use of ADAMS by more ADOs [anti-doping organisations] and an increased number of TUEs granted by certain ADOs’. The WADA Annual Report shows that TUEs were on the increase before any May 2016 requirement to enter TUEs into ADAMS came into force.

Between 2014 and 2015, USADA showed a dramatic rise in both the number of TUE applications it received and the number approved. In 2014, it approved 275 of 466 TUE applications (60%) and in 2015, it approved 402 of 653 applications (62%). This compared to just 56 applications received in Germany (51 approved) and 37 received in Russia during 2014 (17 approved). However, the validity of the figures contained within RUSADA’s annual reports is open to question, as The Sports Integrity Initiative has previously highlighted.

Although France’s NADO, the AFLD, reported 203 TUEs during 2015, this was less than half the TUEs applied for, in contrast to USADA and Australia, where over 60% of the TUEs applied for were granted. TUEs in Australia are approved by the Australian Sports Drug Medical Advisory Committee (ASDMAC) for ASADA. It also appears that the AFLD is processing far less TUEs than it was in the past. In its 2015 Annual Report, it said that the number of TUE applications it received was down 20% as compared to 2014; itself down 17% on the number of TUEs applied for in 2013, or 33% compared to 2012, or 39% compared to 2011.

ASADA also reported a decrease in the number of TUEs it processed, however it was a marginal decrease as compared to the AFLD. In 2013/14, it approved 256 of 374 TUEs applied for. If RUSADA’s numbers are to be trusted, it reported a significant decrease from 50 TUE applications in 2013, however the same number (17) of TUEs were apparently granted in both years. The number of TUEs granted by Germany’s NADO did not change much from the 49 granted in 2014.

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