UCI to consider TUE improvements after Select Committee's report

Fans swarm the Team Sky bus at Tour of Britain

Fans swarm the Team Sky bus at Tour of Britain (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

The UCI announced on Monday that it will consider making improvements to its current Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) system after the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee published its report into 'Combating Doping in Sport', which concluded there were TUE abuses from British Cycling, Team Sky and Dave Brailsford.

In its official statement, the UCI said it welcomed the work of the Select Committee and that the report only reinforced the sport governing body's existing concerns about the potential abuse of TUEs, particularly corticosteroids.

"The UCI will continue to consider possible improvements that could be made to its TUE system," the UCI said in a statement sent to the media. The UCI statement also said the governing body shared the DCMS's concerns about the use of both corticosteroids and the painkiller Tramadol in cycling.

"As a signatory of the World Anti-Doping Code, the UCI is bound by the current Prohibited List, however the UCI has requested, and will continue to request, that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) take additional steps in relation to corticosteroids and Tramadol," the UCI statement read.

"This is a subject that is particularly important to the UCI's president, who will discuss the issue with the WADA president at their next meeting in April. In addition to this, WADA has set up a working group on the matter and the UCI, through the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF), is in touch with this working group."

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The Select Committee concluded that Team Sky riders, including Bradley Wiggins, were treated with corticoidsteroids out of competition in order to lose weight ahead of the 2012 Tour de France, where Wiggins won the overall title.

The report's focus on the abuse of TUEs in cycling came after the 2016 Fancy Bears hack of WADA data revealed that Wiggins had taken three doses of the powerful corticoid, triamcinolone, on the eve of three Grand Tours between 2011 and 2013.

Wiggins told the BBC he "100 per cent did not cheat" in response to the MP's report that claimed he and Team Sky crossed an ethical line by misusing drugs that are allowed under anti-doping rules via TUEs.

Concerns about TUE abuse were also highlighted in the Cycling Independent Reform Commission's (CIRC) report, which was published in 2015 and based on the findings of Dr. Dick Marty, a former Swiss State Prosecutor; Ulrich Haas, an expert in anti-doping laws; and Peter Nicholson, a former military officer who specializes in criminal investigations.

That 13-month investigation yielded a 228-page report that included 174 interviews. It detailed the history of doping within cycling and current suspected doping methods, and then it provided recommendations for the future.

The CIRC reported that 90 per cent of TUEs were used for performance-enhancing reason, and its corresponding recommendation was to pay more attention to medical conditions to better understand how and when to grant TUEs.

The DCMS report, which launched in 2015 and went on for three years before being published Monday, also concluded that the TUE system needed to be kept under "permanent review".

In 2014, the UCI reinforced its TUE rules, the year before the CIRC report was published, with changes that included ensuring that the UCI TUE Committee is comprised of multiple independent experts in the fields of clinical, sports and exercise medicine and that a TUE can only be granted if there is unanimity amongst the three members of the TUE Committee Panel, the UCI reminded in its statement.

It is unclear whether the UCI took any new steps to improve the TUE system based on the recommendations of the CIRC report in 2015, but the UCI stated that it also supports the DCMS report's conclusion that the TUE system needs to be kept under permanent review.

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