Toni and Mark Ellison

First it was PED’s. Now it’s TUE’s.

Need a quick catch up lesson? Here goes:

Following the scandal around Russia’s ‘state sponsored’ Performance Enhancing Drugs programme and the subsequent suspension of multiple athletes from the Rio Olympics a group of Russian hackers, creepily named ‘Fancy Bear’, have released details of numerous non-Russian athletes TUE use. Therapeutic Use Exemptions occur when an athlete is given permission to use a banned substance on the basis of a diagnosed medical condition.

My initial reaction is confusion,

“Wouldn’t it be simpler to just disclose everything? Assuming the TUE is genuine why wouldn’t you place that in the public domain? Then there are no perceived skeletons in the cupboard”.

“On one level it makes sense to disclose everything but then you’ve got the issue about everyone being aware of your injuries. That could, in some situations, place you at a disadvantage”.

“And I guess you wouldn’t want something out there about, say, your fertility treatment”.


“That said I seem to remember a significant number of professional cyclists used to use asthma inhalers under TUE’s which, many pointed out, was statistically disproportionate in relation to the general population”.

“I don’t know the detail about that but obviously if those sort of trends appear it’s going to raise questions. But if it’s genuine, it’s genuine”.

“Has Jess ever had to call on a TUE?”

“In 2008 she had stress fractures, missed the whole season and we were desperate to compete at Gotzis so she had a cortisone injection on doctor’s advice to address the pain and inflammation. Hence the need for a TUE. Over her entire career it’s been very rare”.

“And going into competition you wouldn’t necessarily want her competitors knowing about either the injury or the treatment”.


“So there’s no easy answer?”

“Sadly, no”.

Performance Enhancing Food is another topic all together. Last weeks’ session in the kitchen for his Masters Degree, making chicken stir-fry, has obviously inspired Toni. He’s been getting the team to draw up daily eating plans,

“I want everyone eating enough and eating well so they have the right foundation for Autumn and Winter training”.

I affect a slightly (read very) gruff Manchester accent, “It’s not food it’s fuel?”

“Are you quoting Rugby League legend Denis Betts?”

“I am”.

“He’s right.”

“How do you ensure the team members get it right?”

“I’ve got Mark back in. There’s none better. I’m working on it too”.

Mark Ellison, although not a frequent visitor to the blog, has been instrumental in supporting Toni, Jess and the team over the years. He’s an expert who Toni holds in particularly high regard.

Toni continues, “It’s about forming good habits as we move into the off-season”.

Those familiar with this blog will know that Toni’s usual nutritional favourites include doughnuts, chocolate bars and ice cream. Not wishing to deter his good efforts I nonetheless can’t resist a little mischief, “I look forward to seeing your food diary”.

“You won’t”.

I will. And I’ll share it with you when I do. Our time is nearly over and I realise the blog runs the risk of looking a little ‘bald’,

“Have you taken any photos I could use?”

Toni Wattbike

“Err, no. I haven’t really taken any pictures this week”.

When it comes to habits – there’s the perfect example for you. It took Mark and me around three months to cajole, bully (as if) and bribe Toni to take photos and film every day for the blog. As soon as we wind it down, post-Rio, he falls off the blogging wagon faster than you can snap a selfie. Just as I’m about to take the moral high ground he rallies,

“I do have one of Mark. And my new Wattbike. And maybe a couple of others..”

Must be a hard habit to break.