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Russia warms to controversial TUEs after doping scandals

MOSCOW (AP) — After years of using hacked data to vilify Western athletes as cheats who bend the rul..

By Sunday Herald Team , in Sports , at April 12, 2019

MOSCOW (AP) — After years of using hacked data to vilify Western athletes as cheats who bend the rules to take banned substances, Russia is warming to a controversial part of the anti-doping system.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in 2017 that the countrys rivals were using Therapeutic Use Exemptions to game the system. The exemptions allow athletes to treat medical conditions with substances that would otherwise be banned.

If they were really ill, Putin said, “maybe they should enter the Paralympics.”

Late last month, though, Putin gave a high-profile speaking slot at a meeting of his Fitness and Sports Council to a veteran gymnastics official who urged Russians to apply for more TUEs.

“We must use this opportunity on a legal basis,” Irina Viner-Usmanova told the televised meeting, calling on the sports ministry and the governments Federal Medical-Biological Agency to help.

Russias years of doping scandals, she said, had taught Russia to use legitimate avenues properly.

“This experience let us be more attentive and law-abiding when taking medical products,” Viner-Usmanova said.

Statistics show TUEs are in demand as Russia returns to sports following bans, like from last years Winter Olympics.

The Russian anti-doping agency, known as RUSADA, received a record 101 TUE applications last year, and is on track to breeze past that number this year. After years when doping was widespread in Russian sport, the agency hails the rise as the result of better education and legitimate sports medicine.

Despite the rise in applications, RUSADA says athletes and team doctors struggle to understand the system. Only 22 applications were approved last year.

Officials from RUSADA and the UK Anti-Doping Agency, which handled Russian TUEs until September, turned down applications which lacked medical documents, or from athletes asking for medicines that werent actually banned.

RUSADA deputy CEO Margarita Pakhnotskaya argued that even the more clueless applications at least indicate growing respect for the rules. She said “one or two” filings seemed like an attempt to cheat and were passed on to RUSADAs investigations unit.

While some Russian athletes may be getting TUEs direct from international sports federations, RUSADAs numbers remain relatively low by European standards. Not all agencies publish TUE data, though Norway granted 85 applications and refused nine last year, while German figures for 2017 show 72 approvals and seven rejections.

In the high-stakes world of Olympic sports, athletes can risk a ban for failing to declare some relatively common medications. Without the TUE system, athletes who get injured or have longer-term conditions like asthma might have to spend long periods on the sidelines until medicines left their system completely, or risk their health by going without treatment.

Russias ire at Western athletes followed regular hacks by the Fancy Bears group — which U.S. law enforcement said last year was a cover for Russian military intelligence.

The Fancy Bears website, which once promised “sensational proof of famous athletes taking doping substances,” now bears a message that it has been seized by the FBI. The Russian government denies involvement in hacking.

The Fancy Bears published dozens of athletes medical histories, though no Russian TUEs. Stripped of their context — inRead More – Source

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Russia warms to controversial TUEs after doping scandals

MOSCOW (AP) — After years of using hacked data to vilify Western athletes as cheats who bend the rul..

By Sunday Herald Team , in Sports , at April 12, 2019

MOSCOW (AP) — After years of using hacked data to vilify Western athletes as cheats who bend the rules to take banned substances, Russia is warming to a controversial part of the anti-doping system.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in 2017 that the countrys rivals were using Therapeutic Use Exemptions to game the system. The exemptions allow athletes to treat medical conditions with substances that would otherwise be banned.

If they were really ill, Putin said, “maybe they should enter the Paralympics.”

Late last month, though, Putin gave a high-profile speaking slot at a meeting of his Fitness and Sports Council to a veteran gymnastics official who urged Russians to apply for more TUEs.

“We must use this opportunity on a legal basis,” Irina Viner-Usmanova told the televised meeting, calling on the sports ministry and the governments Federal Medical-Biological Agency to help.

Russias years of doping scandals, she said, had taught Russia to use legitimate avenues properly.

“This experience let us be more attentive and law-abiding when taking medical products,” Viner-Usmanova said.

Statistics show TUEs are in demand as Russia returns to sports following bans, like from last years Winter Olympics.

The Russian anti-doping agency, known as RUSADA, received a record 101 TUE applications last year, and is on track to breeze past that number this year. After years when doping was widespread in Russian sport, the agency hails the rise as the result of better education and legitimate sports medicine.

Despite the rise in applications, RUSADA says athletes and team doctors struggle to understand the system. Only 22 applications were approved last year. (more…)

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