The medications listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency's Prohibited List can potentially enhance an athlete's performance, but they also can play a vital role in treating serious health conditions. A Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) protects an athlete's right to medical care by granting permission to take a medication on the prohibited list.

Anti-Doping Attorneys for Therapeutic Use Exemption

About the Therapeutic Use Exemption Process

Athletes with a Therapeutic Use Exemption are allowed to take an otherwise banned medication without fear of an anti-doping rule violation. TUEs are granted only if no unfair advantage is given to the athlete by allowing them to take the medication. The TUE application process is confidential to protect an athlete's right to privacy. 

The purpose of the International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemptions (ISTUE) is to ensure that the process of granting TUEs is consistent across sports and countries. National Anti-Doping Organizations, like the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), grant TUEs in compliance with the WADA ISTUE for athletes within their borders; however, such TUEs are only effective for competitions within the country. If an athlete wishes to compete internationally, they must seek approval from their international federation, like the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), which has concurrent authority to grant TUEs to players under the WADA TUE standards. The athlete’s TUE will only apply internationally if the international federation finds that the athlete meets the requirements under the ISTUE.  

Professional sports organizations, such as Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), have their own TUE application process which is distinct from WADA’s, so athletes must be aware of the specific TUE rules that apply to them.

Types of TUEs

There are three general types of TUEs granted to athletes: 

Prospective TUE

Whenever possible, athletes are encouraged to look for safe and effective medications that are not prohibited. However, sometimes the only drug that is effective for an athlete's unique medical needs is one that is a banned substance. If your doctor believes there is no reasonable therapeutic alternative for your medical condition, you can apply for a prospective TUE that will give you permission to legally use the medication that is a banned substance for a specified period of time. If the medication is prohibited only in-competition, you should apply for a TUE at least 30 days before your next competition. If the substance is prohibited at all times, you should apply as soon as you receive a diagnosis requiring the use of the substance.

Emergency TUE

When you are suddenly ill or injured, there is often no time to check the status of a medication. If you received a prohibited medication due to a medical emergency, you should apply for an emergency TUE promptly after your condition has stabilized. You'll be asked to submit all relevant medical documentation and provide a personal statement regarding the circumstances that led to the use of the banned substance. 

Retroactive Fairness TUE

Athletes are expected at all times to apply for a Prospective TUE since they are responsible for what they put into their bodies. As a result, Retroactive TUEs are only granted for very limited, exceptional circumstances, including whether it would be “fair” to do so, which is contingent on the discretion of the relevant Anti-Doping Organization. 

How Our Anti-Doping Attorneys Can Help

Athletes shouldn't be unfairly punished for doing what's necessary to take care of their health. If you need to legally take a medication on the WADA Prohibited List, our anti-doping attorneys can assist you in applying for a prospective TUE or appeal the denial of your TUE application. If you're facing a suspension or other penalties due to a positive test for a substance used for emergency care, our anit-dopoing attorneys can help you apply for a retroactive TUE that can wipe out the anti-doping rule violation and allow you to continue competing in the sport you love. 

Our anti-doping attorneys have worked with athletes to obtain TUEs covering a wide range of medical issues, including methylphenidate or other medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and testosterone used to treat male hypogonadism.

Are You an Athlete in Need of a Therapeutic Use Exemption?

If you're an athlete who needs a Therapeutic Use Exemption to begin treatment or wishes to apply for a retroactive TUE to wipe out a pending anti-doping violation, it is critical to speak with our anti-adoping attorneys as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call us directly at +1-207-747-5899 to schedule your initial 1 hour consultation.

Our firm is devoted to the very specific practice of sports law and has represented athletes from over 50 countries and more than 50 different sports. When it comes to applying for a TUE, you simply can't afford to take any chances. Not only are your career and reputation at stake—so are your lifelong dreams. Don't hesitate. Contact our anti-doping attorneys today.

Paul Greene
Recognized as one of the world’s leading sports lawyers and a well-known speaker and author.