Abstract

Events surrounding the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro brought increased scrutiny on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) policy. Some critics even called for abolishing the TUE policy as a potential reform to improve anti-doping. This article describes the TUE policy outlined in the 2015 International Standards for Therapeutic Use Exemptions and then provides a moral argument for having TUEs based on medical rights. Next, the article discusses two types of criticisms of the TUE policy. The first, labeled “in practice” criticisms, proves to have no merit. The second, categorized as “in principle” criticisms, mostly fails to undermine the TUE policy. However, one branch of the “in principle” criticism, asserted by Dimeo and Møller, does raise doubts about the TUE policy’s use of the treatment-enhancement distinction. Ultimately, the article argues that the criteria for approving a TUE should drop objections to enhancement when faced with legitimate medical conditions that offer no alternative accepted therapies. The article suggests that the medical community’s ability to determine medical necessity and best practice guidelines provides sufficient criteria to prevent fraudulent TUE applications and thus should not rely on the treatment-enhancement distinction to deny TUE requests that conform to accepted medical practices. With such reforms, the article concludes that not only are critics wrong to call for an end to WADA’s TUE policy, but that such a TUE policy helps sports in the Olympic Movement achieve their highest ideals.

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