TUE’s and Illnesses

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I’m not nearly a smart enough guy to understand all the issues involved with medicine. Especially taking medicine while racing bikes.  I do know it isn’t very fun racing while you are sick, but that is part of the job many times.

And it really doesn’t even matter if you are a professional, where it is really a job or just a guy focusing on any given weekend.  You might have be training for a specific race for a full year, only to come down with some crud the week before.  There is no way you could not start the race.  I’ve done that many times.

And the results are sometimes surprising, which is why doing things out of the box is amazing and sometimes the only way to push the limits of things.

But this TUE thing is ridiculous.   A TUE is a exemption that allows athletes to compete while taking normally banned medicines.  It is also a way for athletes to take substances that enhance performance, without being ill.

Bradley Wiggins can go on the BBC and or do an interview with The London Times and say that he was just trying to stay even or whatever, but everyone, including Bradley, knows that the reason he was taking those triamcinolone injections was to enhance his performance, not to get well, or his his words, ” to cure a medical condition”.

Here’s the deal.  WADA and USADA knows when something is being abused.  They can just look at the number of athletes applying for TUE’s for the same substance and if the number gets ridiculous, then they need to address the problem.  But that doesn’t seem to be the way the process works.  It drags on for years until it gets to a tipping point.

The guys at The Outer Line wrote a piece about TUE’s today.  If you have some extra time, and are interested in the subject, here is a link.  As always, they cover the topic pretty well.  They don’t have a solution, but do address the problem pretty solidly.




51 thoughts on “TUE’s and Illnesses

  1. Asocratic

    Start a campaign to get USAC to publish monthly TUE totals by medication. At least then we all know what drug we need to be taking 😉 USAC needs more transparency.

    1. Tom Kluth

      Brad, asthma is not a disease, but a reaction to an allergen. Would you be amazed at the number of elite cyclists that have allergies?

      1. Darkcloud

        I’m just “speculating” that Brad is calling BS on the rampant use of asthma medications by cyclists with no real need for them other than to increase performance.
        I’ve been wrong before…

      2. KrakatoaEastofJava

        I have allergies, but can’t go as far as to say I have asthma.

        If you have seasonal allergies that simply cause you some inconveniences in breathing, mucous accumulation, etc… THAT’S NOT ASTHMA. That’s just allergies. Welcome to being part of the 95% of the population that experience this.

        If you regularly experience breathing difficulties that are so severe, you are on the verge of unconsciousness (even if only brought about by certain allergens or “triggers”), and you’re unable to breathe in the same manner as those unaffected, then you’re in the Asthma ballpark. It’s a shitty ballpark to be in.

        I have (several times) experienced what is known as “exercise-induced asthma”, where intense cardiovascular exercise (combined with a very specific allergen) causes severe asthmatic symptoms. But even the pulmonologist said I don’t “have asthma”. It’s situational, and the conditions required to replicate the symptoms are very specific. His advice: “Don’t DO the stuff that causes these symptoms, at least now that you know what causes yours. Hope I never see you again. Bye!”

        If my exercise-induced asthma were to go “chronic” (long-term), I would be incredibly stupid to even consider racing a bike during conditions that are likely to bring about such symptoms, as I could literally die. And any doctor who advised me to continue with plans to race in such conditions (TUE or no TUE) is a doctor that should lose his/her medical license. The risks are simply too great.

        Wiggins doesn’t have asthma. He’s full of shit, as are dozens of other pros throughout the world who claim to have it. The “asthma TUE” is 100% bullshit. “True” asthmatics have no business racing bikes professionally. Period. They’re risking their lives each time they mount a bike.

    2. Russell

      I’m amazed by the number of high school kids with asthma. Watching ski nationals last year I watched kids sucking on inhalers like they we’re sneaking shots from their parents liquor cabinet.

      1. Trey H

        If the parents smoke or they have cats, doesn’t that increase the likelihood the kids will have asthma? Asthma is mostly induced by environmental triggers (such as animal dander/smoke), not a genetic disorder (though genes can make one predisposed to developing asthma).

      2. KrakatoaEastofJava

        My point being, eliminate that particular set of environmental triggers, and your kid probably won’t have asthma anymore. But people “want what they want”, choose to live in denial, and figure that inhalers “fix” the problem.

        There are plenty of “true” asthmatics that have environmental triggers that reside completely outside their range of control.

        But in the case of TUE’s, I’m blown away that so many pro athletes show a desire to hitch themselves to the “asthma wagon”.

      1. KrakatoaEastofJava

        And EIA is not a chronic condition. It doesn’t always happen. It would be unfair to the rest of the peloton to take injectable meds to prepare for its mere “possible” occurance.

  2. Tom Kluth

    If TUE’s are permitted, the possible caveat could be that that rider is ineligible for any prize $$ in that race. On the world tour level, teams would have to pay a supplemental fee for riders that are on TUE in a race. This should have an effect of keeping “sick” riders out of the peloton.

    1. Darkcloud

      Would kinda suck to do everything legit and place fourth behind one or more of the first three finishers who are riding with TUEs, wouldn’t it?

    2. KrakatoaEastofJava

      Then you’d get the entire Sky team (minus Froome) on a TUE. Or Cav’s entire leadout train. best to just eliminate the TUE.

      Wait a minute. What about cannabis? That cures everything!

  3. DR

    If you are sick enough to require a banned substance for your recovery you should not be racing, you need to work on getting well. You should then be exempt from racing until that banned substance leaves your system and it can no longer effect your performance. No one should be allowed to compete using a banned substance, period. Most TUE’s today are simply legalized doping.

  4. George Romonoyske

    I’ve been thinking about this recently, partly due to the TUE leaks, partly because I have asthma and have not taken anything in years for it. It is apparent that during certain times my capacity to process O2 becomes my limiter. There is nothing more frustrating than than being competitive one week then sucking wind the next. My recent physical showed a large difference between lung function when administered an inhaler. The tough decision here is whether I should get a TUE and take medicine for something that only limits me during a sustained cardiovascular activity, and not even all the time at that. I’ve avoided it for years, choosing to accept my limits. What if I was a pro and my career hinged on it. I suppose that would make it even tougher.

    1. Jake

      I was riding fine, then went to race in Leadville and had trouble breathing. If only I could get a TUE to fix this problem.

    2. KrakatoaEastofJava

      I had a similar test. The doc said that I was noticeably lower as far as air intake function on spirometer readings sans-medication. The he had me take Advair for two weeks and come back. My readings were normal with the Advair disk. It absolutely reduced lung inflammation for me.

      I’ve never tested to see if being on Advair would improve my results. To be honest, I never felt like I was at a disadvantage, yet perhaps I may have been. I consider my lack of ability to process oxygen to be that “genetic thing” that separates the Lemonds from the donkeys. Guess I’m a donkey!

  5. Rich

    The inhaler use / abuse has been around for a long time. I remember watching the Olympic track and field events years ago and the commentators were mentioning how many athletes were using them. Seemed odd that so many world class athletes had asthma.

  6. Choppy Warburton

    I’m allergic to having low testosterone, a low hematocrit and low growth hormones can someone please give me a TUE?

    My Monday ?

    I’ll gladly repay you by Wednesday or whenever the dope… er uh TUE kicks in.

    1. KrakatoaEastofJava

      I don’t know him, but for USADA to grant him a 3-year TUE, then fail to issue (or deny) a subsequent TUE, and then to test him after he re-applies… That’s pretty fucked considering that a few days after his test refusal, they went ahead and granted his TUE.

      Considering he’d already served a PED ban, they never should have granted him a TUE to begin with… and I think his case illustrates why they should be completely done away with.

  7. MV

    Solution to this all so simple (As Sven Nijs indicated already): If you’re not healthy enough to race, you should’t.
    Ban on ALL TUE’s.

  8. Larry T

    Where does this s__t end? These RCTUE’s are a joke! I’m old, overweight, my VO2 max was only 58 and one of my heart valves doesn’t close properly – is there enough dope available to make ME a competitive bike racer? Again, it’s the Masters Racers at the forefront of this silliness. Can’t they just enjoy riding their bicycles for FUN?

      1. Larry T

        Did ya read the article? RCTUE’s are the result of pandering to Masters racers. Who else is going to get RX’s for “Low T”?

  9. Paul Boudreaux

    As a former competitive endurance athlete who started cycling for recreation late in life, I have to say I’ve always been a bit surprised/suspicious about how many fast masters there are out there. Just don’t remember there being so many “cardio gifted” guys out there back in the day.

    1. Bryan Barber

      Because all those gifted athletes were playing football, basketball, baseball, soccer, volleyball, tennis, golf and chess. All the sports that were/are more popular than bike racing.

    2. KrakatoaEastofJava


      Type-A personality + $ (personal coaching program, power meter, heart rate monitor, top shelf equipment, divorce) (time) = fast master.

      This sport became a magnet for certain guys with something big to prove. Paid coaches (working with heart and power data… and a motivated rider) can bring an average person up to consistent top-10 placings. Then add in the delta variables of regions like SoCal, CO, the entire northeast, Texas, etc, and you have LOTS of guys all doing similar things, yet actually wanting wins for themselves (or perhaps a state or national championship Jersey). That’s when you start to see masters with “low T” heading to clinics, or buying shit from Thorfinn Sasquatch.

      Sports like running don’t allow the kind of “deep data analysis” that cycling allows, so the athlete has less individual control over their future outcomes.

      1. KrakatoaEastofJava

        Thom Weisel is a textbook example of the personality. Rich dude hires Eddie B. to be his personal coach. Eddie lives in San Diego, Weisel is a “BSD” (big swinging sick) investment banker from San Francisco. Big distance gap. What does Weisel do? Has Eddie meet him every evening at Palomar Airport in Carlsbad. Private jets down each day for his training sessions. He got his stars n stripes too. He had the drive and the resources.

      2. Larry T

        Spot on Kraky!! There are nowadays too many of these types f__king things up for the rest..causing the stereotypes like mine of “MASTERS RACERS”. Certainly not all of ’em are like that, but the jerks are the ones making the noise and the news. I try very hard to screen out these types before they show up to ride with us in Italy, but now and then one has slipped through to my (and the rest of the folks on the tour) eternal regret. They’re the classic definition of narcissism. Very toxic in group settings of any kind.

      3. KrakatoaEastofJava

        Thanks Larry. And here, talking about Tommy D… Have a look at the typical client bio of coach Tom Danielson:


        Think about it: Why would people pay top-dollar to confessed (or perhaps just “sanctioned”) dopers to be their personal coaches? Especially when there are plenty of other retired pros offering premium coaching services too.

        Tommy D, Kevin Livingston, Tyler Hamilton… All of them can be your coach. For a price. Not only do they understand the subtleties of periodization, power data, heart data, training schedules, etc. They also know their amateur hematology.

  10. bz

    but…but….Christian Prudhomme told cyclingnews he believes cycling has cleaned up its act. BWAHHHAHAHAHAHAHAH

  11. Chris Froome

    Hey Die Hard Cycling Fans and Mr. Tilford, Chris Froome, Multiple time TdF Champ and honest to goodness spokesman for the cleanest endurance sport around- Professional Cycling! I’ve taken time off from posting to practice descending (I’ve improved), practice racing into crosswinds (I’ve improved) and being less a twat (I’ve stayed roughly the same). I’ll have you know that I have also begun to vlog- Check me out on YouTube where my content is unparalleled. I unveil copies of my 2016 TUE documents that show the person who really prepared them! Hint: it was not Sir Davey or me- it was actually a Medical Doctor (Team Sky is INNOCENT yet again!) But seriously people, after I got caught on cam sucking on my asthma inhaler IN THE MIDDLE OF A RACE before a climb, I think everyone of you know the score about my TUE’s – we at Team Sky publicized this info years and years in advance, making this a moot point, of course. I think Wiggins explained this issue best by saying what Greg Strock said about Chris Carmichael and Rene Wenzel back in the good old days. He said, Team Sky handed out Tramodol Espresso shots and gave cortisone for TUEs for embarrassing conditions such as “ulcerative colitis,” – better known as Chrone’s disease (“Sagan are you farting on the front again?” peleton gag!) As noted on GCN, TUEs were also granted for some sticky STIs. So I go into detail about TUEs in my first vlog post. While I’m admittedly not as physically attractive as Bob Roll, nor am as as witty as the GCN trio, my vlog promises to give super insider information such as how many Tramodol and Rimdyl it takes for Contador to fall asleep and crash 4 times in one TdF stage? (Answer is 1500mg!) Bonus Question- “How many Rimadyl does Valverde’s dog, Little Pepe Mancebo, eat per hour?” So regarding TUEs, a lot of times, like all the time, we can get a last minute TUE for what we call emergent or non chronic conditions and new diagnoses- for example a really big saddle sore could require so much topical corticosteroid that, being so close to what I call my testicles, could actually show up on a test as an enormous injection of steroids. But I think certain privacy laws should protect embarrassing conditions like this from being revealed. Also my vlog will be as funny as a South African can be- for example I call up Dick Pound, Anti-Doping Pioneer on camera and say, “Hey There Mr. Dick Pound, Chris Froome, Cycling Legend Here! You are live on my new VLOG!!!! and I have to ask you….WADA you think about the state of doping in cycling today?” I say the word WADA as if I’m saying “What do,” Then I laugh and he reminds me we can’t really be talking because of the whole TUE thing being a known loophole for so long…. Then he seems to slam down his cell phone because you can hear him swear and say he cut his hand and the phone doesn’t hang up for like 5 more minutes of him really swearing and finally he says, “I knew those fucking TUEs were bullshit!”

    1. mks

      THIS is one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time. I’d love to know how much caffeine was ingested to craft this stream of consciousness. Bravo – just outstanding!!!!

  12. Paul Boudreaux

    Bryan: I played baseball and basketball all the way through sophmore year in HS (and football through 8th grade) at a school with 3000+ kids in Southern CA. There weren’t any f’ing Lemonds hiding in those sports.


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