Alistair Brownlee has become the latest athlete to have theraupeutic use exemption files made public, with the records showing the double Olympic gold medallist received a TUE for acetazolamide, which helps to combat altitude sickness. Brownlee claims the TUE was taken out-of-competition during a trekking trip up Mount Kilimanjaro in 2013.
Much debate has been sparked after TUE files started to be leaked last month by the Russian Fancy Bears hacking group, with Bradley Wiggins being arguably the most high profile case so far. While some have called for more transparency, British Cycling, and now British Triathlon, strongly deny that TUEs are in any way linked to performance enhancement.
British Triathlon said: “Alistair Brownlee was granted his only TUE for treatment of altitude sickness whilst climbing Kilimanjaro in October 2013. This was an out of competition trek after the triathlon season had finished.
“Let’s be very clear; athletes who have a TUE on their record have followed the rules based on a specific medical requirement. We can say with absolute confidence that our athletes have nothing to hide.
“This attack on the integrity of athletes is shocking. We strongly condemn actions of this nature and continue to be in close contact with UKAD and WADA in regards to this matter.”
Brownlee senior himself made light of the incident on his Twitter account after first explaining plainly that he has had one TUE in his career “to treat altitude sickness while climbing Kilimanjaro” – making reference to the famous moment at WTS Cozumel when he carried brother Jonny over the line, Alistair said: “Slightly embarrassing that someone as fit as me suffered from alititude sickness, but thankfully Jonny was there to carry me.”
Widely regarded sports sports and exercise consultant Dr. Leon Creaney told 220 Triathlon last week: “The recent revelations by Fancy Bears are, in my opinion, an attempt to create a story, where no real story exists; it’s sour grapes because of the Russian systematic cheating that has been exposed.
“To get a TUE you have to be objectively diagnosed, usually by two separate specialists, to prove that you have the condition. This will usually involve clinical opinion, and the results of various tests. “The kind of medications that sports people get TUEs are not particularly performance enhancing anyway, so it’s all legitimate as far as I’m concerned.”