Therapeutic Use Exemptions

There is a process which allows you to take a medication containing a banned substance if you need to for medical reasons.  This is called the Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) process.

You may need to apply for a TUE if you get sick or injured and require medication or if you have an ongoing medical condition that requires treatment, such as diabetes or asthma.

If you’re a ”national” or “international” level athlete, you will  need to apply for a TUE before you take the medication.  

Other athletes who may be tested and return a positive test due to a medication, are able to  apply for a retroactive TUE (this means you can apply after you have been tested). However, you will still need to meet the criteria  before a TUE will be granted.

If you're taking medication that contains a prohibites substance and you return a positive drug test without having a TUE, you could be banned from participating in all sport.

You can find out more about the TUE process here:  

The TUE process

The steps below outline the entire TUE process for you.

  1. you tell your medical professional that you’re an athlete who could be drug tested and ask them to bear this in mind when prescribing medication
     
  2. check the status of the medication your doctor has prescribed by calling Drug Free Sport NZ 0800 DRUGFREE (378437) or email us
     
  3. if the substance is prohibited, ask your doctor if there are any alternatives that could be used
     
  4. if there’s NO ALTERNATIVE, a TUE application  must be completed (in emergency situations, treatment may begin immediately)
     
  5. you can download an application form here or call us to check whether you need to apply to your International Federation   
     
  6. your application must be completed in full by a medical practitioner (preferably the prescribing doctor) and all relevant supporting documentation attached. (Note that most applications require Specialist support)
     
  7. submit your application to Drug Free Sport NZ:  Fax +64 9 580 0381 or PO Box 17451, Greenlane, Auckland 1546 or email us. (Or send your TUE to your International Federation if that’s appropriate)
     
  8. your application will be reviewed.
     
  9. you and your medical professional will be told whether the application has been accepted or rejected. You will be told of any conditions including the date of expiry and restrictions on the use of the medication.

Who needs to apply for a TUE and when?

If you are a national or international level athlete and you need to take a medication that is on the Prohibited List, you must apply for a TUE before you take the medication (unless it’s a medical emergency).

Drug Free Sport NZ determines whether you’re a national level athlete.

National level athletes

You are classified as a national level athlete if you are:

International Level Athletes

The criteria for an international level athlete is determined by a sport’s International Federation.  If you’re competing internationally you should check with your Federation and be clear about your responsibilities around TUEs because you may have to apply for a TUE from your International Federation rather than Drug Free Sport NZ.

Other Athletes

Other athletes do not require a TUE in advance.  If you’re one of these athletes, you can apply for a retroactive exemption, which means you only need to apply if you’re tested and you return a positive test.  However, you will need to meet the relevant criteria.
If you’re not sure what level athlete you are email us, call us 0800 DRUGFREE (378 437) or contact your National Sport Organisation (NSO) to check.

What do I need to include in my TUE application?

Your medical practitioner will need to provide a variety of information in support of your TUE application.  

This includes:

  • comprehensive medical evidence to justify the use of the treatment, preferably from a specialist
  • confirmation that permitted alternative medications have been tried.

If you or your medical professional do not submit all of the required information, then your application will be delayed so it’s important that you include the correct documentation.

Drug Free Sport NZ aims to deal with TUE applications quickly and we generally turn them around within two working days.  But don’t leave it until the last minute to apply in case you need to provide further information. If you’re an international or national level athlete, you need to apply for a TUE before you take a banned substance.

What if I require emergency treatment?

If you have a serious accident or you require emergency medical treatment, don’t hesitate.  Your health always comes first and you should get whatever medical help you need immediately.

Do advise all medical staff that you’re an athlete who could be drug tested and ask them to check whether all medications are prohibited in sport.

However, if you do require a prohibited substance or method for the sake of your health, make a TUE application immediately after treatment (a retroactive TUE).

Where do I send my TUE application?

New Zealand athletes will either apply to Drug Free Sport NZ, their International Federation or a major event organiser (e.g. the International Olympic Committee) for a TUE.

Who you apply to for a TUE will depend on what level athlete you are and what sport you’re involved in.

Most athletes can apply to Drug Free Sport NZ for a TUE, but it’s best to call us first to check and we’ll let you know whether you need to apply to your International Federation or event organiser. Email us here or call us 0800 DRUGFREE (378 437).

Remember, if you’re an international or national level athlete, you need to apply for a TUE before you take a banned substance.

Applications to Drug Free Sport NZ should got to tue@drugfreesport.org.nz

What does the TUE committee consider?

Getting a TUE may protect athletes from receiving a sanction if a prohibited substance is found in their sample.

An exemption is only granted if the athlete will gain no unfair advantage by using the banned substance or method.  It’s also important that the athlete’s wellbeing not put at further risk as a result of using the medication.

The TUE Committee must consider the following:

  • will you experience significant health problems if you don’t take the medication?
  • will the substance significantly enhance your sporting performance?
  • is there no reasonable and permitted alternative medication you could take for the illness or condition?

If the criteria are met then it’s likely a TUE will be granted.  A TUE will only be valid for the specific medication and for a certain time period. Make sure you understand the restrictions that apply to your TUE application. 

Where can I get a TUE application form?

If you're a national level athlete you can download a TUE application form here.  If you're an international level athlete you should contact your International Federation or call us for more information 0800 DRUGFREE (378 437)