Callum Skinner has released his medical records in a bid to quell speculation of his use of TUEs (Temporary Use Exemptions), following release of data by computer hackers last week.
The hackers, known as Fancy Bears, published a number of athletes’ certificates, including the use of TUEs by pro cyclists, among them Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.
Skinner, who used prednisolone in November 2014 and a two-day prescription for salbutamol in January this year, says he would have been suspicious of the use of TUEs as a cycling fan. He hopes the move will put to bed any speculation about his use of otherwise banned substances, and wants to prove people with asthma can still go on to compete at the highest level in sport.
Writing in the Scotsman this week, the Olympic Gold medallist said: “When I went on Twitter and saw a headline with my name and stories with my picture I knew that people would be sceptical and think my TUEs could be questionable.
“After the leak I resolved to release my NHS medical records, so I’ve spent the past week phoning doctors I’ve seen and the hospitals to which I have been admitted on four occasions having suffered asthma attacks. I was keen to make my records public for two reasons: to prove that my condition is real, but also to show that asthma need not stop somebody competing at the highest level.”
Skinner says he first suffered asthma aged five, and was “never big on PE at school”. He said: “I tended to hang out with other asthmatic kids because, at play time, we couldn’t run around like the others could”.
His mum encouraged him to try sport, and on four occasions he was admitted to hospital with asthma attacks. Skinner says he now takes an air purifier everywhere with him, uses omega 3 supplements and gets as much sunlight as possible for vitamin D.
In an interview with road.cc this week Chris Boardman said making all TUEs public would go a long way towards addressing the problem.
“I think what it’s raised and it’s still not being asked about properly, is if you can have something that is legal and yet everyone feels is immoral, then your rules aren’t right,” he said.
“In the short term, the simplest way to deal with it is to make all TUEs public.
“And even if you can’t do that legally, you go around all the teams and ask them if they’re okay with making TUEs public, and then make a list of all the people who say ‘no’ and that will get them to agree.
“So it’s totally fixable. Because all this is about money. Sponsors want good publicity, if you take away that good publicity from the team, there’s no reason for them to sponsor, there’s no incentive to use TUEs.”
While the TUEs granted to athletes named in the Fancy Bears leaks were issued within the rules, there is widespread concern about the ethics of their use.
“Nobody’s saying it’s outside the rules,” said Boardman. “But it’s still a massive thing, that’s the problem.
“We don’t need to be there, and this sport of all sports doesn’t need it right now.
“So make them all public and tighten it up,” he added.
“If people are really sick, should they be racing?”