TUE: Breaking Bad

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International sports competitions constitute a vital element of the contemporary life. Olympic Games, World Cups, Continental Championships are thrust into the public spotlight and they are not only about leisure interest. In fact, such an event is a way to increase the international status of the country, its prestige and political heft. That’s why the victory becomes priceless and the means to achieve it are quite extreme.

Therapeutic Use Exemptions have already become an essential part of professional sport. Today, this legal doping is not considered as something unusual or unfair. There is no resentment among athletes, coaches or doctors either. And here we face double standards. On the one hand, international sports community promotes a healthy lifestyle, on the other it turns out to be represented by people with chronic diseases unable to compete without any pharmaceutical support.

There is no doubt that sometimes TUEs are used by real frauds who take drugs under the pretense of imagined illnesses in order to improve their performance. However, it is even more blatant when ill or injured athletes are nearly forced to sacrifice their health for the benefit of sports managers, sponsors or the country they represent.

Kathleen Baker has become such a victim. At the age of 14 Kathleen revealed that she suffers from Crohn’s disease, a chronic gastrointestinal inflammation. Despite this serious illness the young girl was forced to compete while poisoning her body with strong hormonal agents. Baker herself called this period “a complete nightmare”.

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The interference into the sports career of an American basketball player Brittney Griner looks horrible as well. FIBA and WADA have found nothing evil in the prescription for lisdexamfetamine, a drug that can cause addiction and other psychological troubles.

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Athletes’ need to take different medical substances stuck so hard in their psychology that even the most prominent champions do not imagine their success without drugs. Such tendency has already turned into obsession. Sometimes sportsmen use substances without understanding whether they really need them. For example, the famous swimmer and multiple Olympic champion Michael Phelps used gabapentin during the certain period of time. Formally this substance is prohibited only in horseracing. But why did the athlete need to use the antiepileptic substance while not suffering epilepsy? This question remains open.

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All statements on the importance of sport for propaganda of healthy way of life look hypocritical while enormous number of sportsmen (not only professionals but amateurs as well) make progress overcoming the diseases – real or imaginary – only with the help of powerful drugs and get more and more new health problems. Sport will never become “philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind” until it remains the arena of governments’ ambitions and advantageous business. Therapeutic Use Exemptions serve as the first obstacle the international sports movement must overcome in order to be able to take the path of purification.

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