September 23, 2016
American distance stars Galen Rupp and Shalane Flanagan were among the latest athletes to have their therapeutic use exemption (TUE) records released by the Russian hacker group Fancy Bears. Rupp and Flanagan were among 41 athletes from 13 countries whose records were released in the fifth round of hacks on Friday.
Rupp had three TUEs listed, all from 2009. The first was in July from the IAAF for methylprednisolone. Then in October, Rupp received TUEs from USADA for two drugs: salmeterol and salbutamol. Both were substances found in medication Rupp was taking at the time, the salmeterol in Advair, used to treat asthma, and the salbutamol in Combivent, another bronchodilator used to increase air flow to the lungs. Methlyprednisolone helps prevent inflammation and can be used to treat allergies. Rupp’s asthma and allergies are no secret; in a 2012 story in the dailyRx News, Rupp stated that he used two of the drugs that he received TUEs for, Advair and Combivent.
Flanagan’s TUE was for an intravenous infusion of sodium chloride solution on February 13, 2016 — the day of the Olympic Marathon Trials, where Flanagan suffered dehydration in the heat of Los Angeles.
British sprinter Harry Aikines-Aryeetey was the only other track and field athlete to have his records released in Friday’s hack.
Quick Thought #1: Neither Rupp nor Flanagan’s TUEs were surprising or controversial
Rupp’s TUEs confirmed what we already knew — that he has taken medication to combat asthma and allergies in the past. In the 2012 story in dailyRx News, Rupp said that he was taking Advair daily and Combivent before running (which likely means daily since Rupp runs every day). Currently, Rupp likely does not need a TUE to take either medication. The substances contained within — salmeterol and salbutamol — are not banned assuming normal dosage (see page 4 of WADA’s Prohibited List here). Flanagan’s IV is not surprising either as she was clearly dehydrated at the end of the marathon trials.
One thing to note is that Alberto Salazar, in his open letter defending the practices of his Nike Oregon Project in response to the BBC/Pro Publica investigation, wrote that “Galen has only received two (his emphasis) TUEs in his running career since 2010.” Neither of these TUEs since 2010 were in the Fancy Bear data released, so either Fancy Bears does not have access to athletes’ complete anti-doping records or is not releasing all the information.
If anything, this hack is a good thing for Galen Rupp. In the past, he and coach Alberto Salazar have been accused of manipulating the TUE system, claims they have denied. Alberto Salazar has admitted that Galen had more TUEs than the Fancy Bears hackers released.