UCI reacts to TUE criticism in Froome case, promises changes

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The UCI has undertaken to change the way therepeutic use exemptions (TUEs) are handled in the sport, with the governing body telling CyclingTips that there will not be a repeat of the conditions which saw its scientific advisor Dr. Mario Zorzoli grant Chris Froome a TUE in the recent Tour de Romandie.

“Working closely with WADA and its Director General David Howman, the UCI has been reviewing all of its anti-doping rules and procedures including those regarding Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs),” it said, responding to a request for clarification on the situation.

“A completely revised set of rules is in preparation and will enter into force on January 1, 2015 in conjunction with the revised 2015 WADA Code and International Standards, including the International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemptions (ISTUE).

“As an immediate measure, the UCI confirms that from now on, all TUE decisions will pass through the TUE Committee.”

On April 29th Froome finished thirteenth in the opening prologue of the race. His Sky team doctor Alan Farrell sought a TUE from the UCI, telling the body that Froome needed the corticosteroid prednisolone to combat the effects of a chest infection.

French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche reported earlier this month that the Zorzoli granted the request without submitting Froome’s medical dossier to a TUE committee. Froome went on to win the race for the second consecutive year.

The UCI defended its behaviour in the Froome case, saying that it fully satisfied WADA requirements for cases where TUEs are required at short notice. However Le Journal du Dimanche reported on Sunday that WADA was not happy with the UCI over its failure to have a TUE committee in place to handle such matters.

The process is required under WADA regulation 2.1.1. That states, ‘the ADO [anti-doping organisation] must set up a network of physicians responsible for evaluating TUE applications.

“TUE Committees (TUECs) should include at least three physicians with experience in the care and treatment of athletes and a sound knowledge of clinical, sports and exercise medicine (see Article 6.1 of the International Standard for TUEs). The TUEC will be chaired by one of the member physicians.”

In a document released in March, the UCI said that an audit which examined the governing body and its Cycling Anti Doping Foundation had resulted in several urgent recommendations.

These included the following acknowledgement: “A Therepeutic Use Exemption Committee should be re-established and be used as per the requirements of the World Anti Doping Code and the Therepeutic Use Exemption Standard.”

However, according to a follow up report in le Journal du Dimanche on Sunday, approvals of TUEs were still the sole responsibility of Zorzoli, but that this is urgently being looked at and will change in time for the Tour de France.

The UCI has thus far resisted calls to confirm whether or not it currently has a TUE Committee in place. It reiterated to CyclingTips its belief that it has done nothing incorrect in the Froome situation.

“It is important to note that in connection with the TUE granted to Chris Froome, as confirmed by WADA, any rider in the same situation with comparable supporting medical evidence would have been given an authorisation to take similar oral treatment.”

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