There is no meaningful association between an athlete having a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) and winning a medal at the Olympic Games, according to a recent study carried out by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
A TUE is special permission granted by Anti-Doping Organisations (ADOs) to an athlete allowing them to use a prohibited substance as long as there is a legitimate medical need.
The study examined the prevalence of athletes with TUEs at the five summer and winter Olympic Games between 2010 and 2018 and looked for an association to determine if those with TUEs won more medals than those without.
During the five Olympic Games, there were 20,139 athlete competitions and 2,062 medals awarded. Athletes competed with a TUE in 0.9 per cent (181 out of 20,139) of athlete competitions.
There were 21 out of 2,062 medals won by athletes with a TUE. The risk ratio for winning a medal with a TUE was therefore 1.13, according to the WADA study which was recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
WADA Medical Director Alan Vernec, who conducted the study along with the anti-doping body's TUE Manager David Healy, said the data suggests "no meaningful association" between competing with a TUE and the likelihood of winning a medal.
"The data showed that the number of athletes competing with valid TUEs (in individual competitions) at the selected Games was less than 1 per cent. Furthermore, the analysis suggests that there is no meaningful association between competing with a TUE and the likelihood of winning a medal."
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