The Olympic gold medallist says that the saga surrounding TUEs has cast their use in a negative light.

Olympic goal medallist Callum Skinner says that the ongoing debate surrounding the use of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) has distracted people from the bigger of issue of tackling doping.

Skinner, who won gold in Rio in the team sprint and also took silver in the individual sprint behind Jason Kenny, says that TUEs – which permit the use of banned substances – can be a necessity for an athlete if they are required.

He has been granted two in the past, one for the substance prednisolone in 2014 and for salbutamol in January 2016. But when the Fancy Bears hacking group leaked information about his use of them last year, he released his full medical details, detailing how he had suffered from asthma since his childhood.

Bradley Wiggins‘ use of TUEs has caused much speculation since the Fancy Bears revealed he was granted TUEs before the 2011 and 2012 Tour de France and 2013 Giro d’Italia.

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Although Wiggins and his then team, Sky, didn’t fall foul of any rules, both parties have come under considerable criticism.

Skinner says that the current debate around TUEs is masking over efforts to combat doping. “TUEs have started to gain a bit of a bad name for something that is really about athlete welfare,” the Scotsman told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“We’re generally getting a bit distracted by TUEs. We have far bigger challenges in terms of anti-doping with out-of-competition testing.”

Chris Froome turned down a TUE during the 2015 Tour de France – an issue brought up once more last week – and Skinner admits that they are not always needed.

He added: “Chris is a really experienced athlete. He obviously knows his body really well so I wouldn’t be surprised if he and others have inadvertently turned down TUEs – not because of the stigma attached to them, but because it’s just not a method that works for them.”