Drug-free sport, TUE what does it all mean?
Drug-free sport is becoming more and more important as athletes grow stronger posting faster times, setting new records and just overall playing a better game. The officials and governing bodies are extremely strict and it is the responsibility of the athlete to ensure that nothing on the prohibited lists are taken or traces are found during testing.
We started our week on an upsetting note when we learned that one of the world’s best tennis players failed a drug test. In her press conference, she admitted that she did not read an e-mail sent by WADA in January 2016 when the list of banned drugs.
Being a swim-mom is a huge job as you do not just have to make sure the swimmer eats correct and enough, gets enough rest and, in general, stay healthy, you also have to know about TUE’s and medication on the banned list and drug-free sport.
Asthma and drug-free sport.
This brings me to our own experience with a swimmer that suffers from asthma. Yes, we all know at least one swimmer with asthma and it is more common than most people think. Reason being, that swimming is still one of the best sports to play when you have a breathing condition as it is safe, improves heart and lung function and enhances the quality of life.
Asthma is a completely controllable and preventable condition, not a death sentence. Asthmatics in simple terms have a sensitivity to cold, dry air, any irritants in the air and pollution. Asthmatics are encouraged to breathe through their nose and not their mouth as breathing through the nose will filter the air before it reaches the lungs and in the process most likely filter out any elements that will trigger an asthmatic response.
Swimming is a good sport as it strengthens the muscles used for breathing. Inhaling warm, moist air is also good for the lungs as it will most likely decrease the chances of asthma. On the other side of the coin, exercise sometimes could also trigger an asthmatic reaction. This brings us to the use of an asthma pump which contains chemicals preventing wheezing, tightness in the chest and in worst case scenario a bronchiolar spasm also known as an asthma attack.
The drug-free sport or safe list: how do we check?
In January 2016, we received an email from the SA Institute of drug-free sport indicating a change in the list of banned drugs by the World anti-doping agency. The institute of drug-free sports South Africa launched an app and they updated their website with a tool anybody could use to check their medication status online. It is really a simple and user-friendly online medication checking tool – you simply type the name of the medication into the search field and a color-coded response will tell you whether the medication is allowed or not.
Monica has 2 treatment regimes. The one is preventative and the other when she is actually sick or her chest close up. All the preventative medication is on the allowed list. Two substances on the sick list are not allowed during competition (I was surprised with this as I thought the two cortisones will be completely banned). We simply do not allow her to compete when she is sick. This happened once in the past two years since she registered as a swimmer with SSA (NDSA gala in March 2016 and we withdrew from the event due to a closed chest).
TUE – Just another hint, swim-moms. We carry a copy of the TUE completed by Monica’s GP with us at all times, regardless of the fact that the preventative medication is on the green or approved list. A TUE is also submitted with entries as we like to be prepared in case of an emergency.
There is basically no excuse anymore with these user-friendly apps and tools which will ensure the athlete plays a fair and just drug-free sport. It is not just the medical practitioner’s responsibility to stay up-to-date with the prohibited substances – they have most likely enough work as it is and it will take a specialist to stay up to date on the prohibited substances list. It is also the responsibility of parents, swimmers, coaches and for that matter everybody else to ensure that we all are educated and knows what is going on in the business.
Last, but not least, when in doubt have the TUE completed and submit it. Your GP and or Pediatrician will advise and they normally deal with a lot of cases similar to yours. It is better to be safe than sorry as testing can be done at any time, any place. Play fair, play drug-free sport!