Anti-doping: International Standard for Testing

by ITU Admin on 16 Apr, 2009 12:01

The International Standard for Testing (IST) was also revised and came into force at the same time as the revised Code on January 1, 2009.  According to WADA’s Play True magazine Issue 3-2008, “the main purpose of the International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemptions (ISTUE) is to ensure that the process of granting Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) is harmonized across sports and countries.

Athletes, like all others, may have illnesses or conditions that require the use of particular medications.  If the required medication includes a substance that happens to fall under the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List, then a TUE may give that athlete the authorization to take the needed medication.

The ISTUE states that all IFs and NADOs must have a process in place whereby athletes with documented medical conditions can request a TUE, and have such request appropriately dealt with by a panel of independent physicians. IFs and NADOs are responsible for granting and declining such applications.

The ISTUE underwent several phases of consultation, with the final revised version approved by the Executive Committee at its September 2008 meeting in order to harmonize its provisions with the revised Code and the 2009 Prohibited List.

The revisions only concern the Abbreviated TUE process (as opposed to the Standard TUE), primarily due to the administrative workload it generates for Anti-doping Organizations (ADOs).  The revised ISTUE (2009 ISTUE) addresses these concerns by eliminating the concept of the Abbreviated TUE.

The revised ISTUE, which takes into consideration stakeholder feedback and current medical perspectives, such as the International Olympic Committee Consensus on Asthma issued in February 2008 (calling for strict control of use of these drugs by athletes), is based on the premise that, for the process to be manageable while at the same time deterrent enough for elite athletes, different requirements can be requested of athletes depending on their level of competition (international or national.)  All athletes needing to use inhaled Beta-2 agonists and inhaled Glucorticosteriods for asthma must have a medical file and must declare use of these substances in ADAMS and on the doping control form.

For international-level athletes:
Athletes who are part of an international registered testing pool (IRTP) need an approved Standard TUE for asthma prior to using the substance.
For athletes who are not part of an IRTP but are taking part in an international event, it is at the discretion of the IF either to deliver a TUE prior to the event or to provide a retroactive TUE in case of an adverse analytical finding (AAF).  The granting of a retroactive TUE must comply with the criteria set forth in the revised ISTUE, particularly with regards to the athlete having an existing and current medical file.

For national-level athletes:
It is at the discretion of the NADO either to approve the TUE or to provide a retroactive TUE in case of an AAF.

In either case, all athletes may request a TUE if they wish to do so.

In the case of non-inhaled, non-systemic Glucocorticosteriods (GCS), the athlete must provide a minimum declaration that includes the diagnosis, the substance taken, and contact information of the medical doctor who administered the treatment.  It is at the discretion of the ADO to ask for more than this minimum declaration.  For topical use of GCS, neither a TUE nor a declaration is requested.

If you have any questions regarding Anti-doping, please contact Leslie Buchanan, ITU’s Anti-doping Director at

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