The hacking of a WADA database could result in people wrongly thinking TUEs are "a licence to cheat", according to Samantha Quek.
Hockey gold medallist Samantha Quek has expressed concern that young athletes could opt against requesting potentially "life-saving" therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) in the wake of a data leak involving the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Quek - a member of the Great Britain team that triumphed at Rio 2016 - is among a host of athletes to have had confidential medical data leaked after the 'Fancy Bears' cyber-espionage group obtained illegal access to WADA's anti-doping administration and management system (ADAMS).
There is no evidence of any wrongdoing by the victims of the hackers - who have repeatedly revealed instances of TUEs being granted, enabling competitors to use medications that would usually be prohibited for legitimate medical reasons.
However, Quek is worried about the possible impact of the hack.
In a lengthy statement on her official Facebook page, Quek wrote: "My private medical records should indeed be 'private', but I am almost thankful their content was leaked as it shows I have absolutely nothing to hide and gives me the opportunity to show that I am a clean athlete. I was prescribed an inhaler in 2010 for entirely legitimate reasons and required a TUE; to which there is a very rigorous, robust process carried out by specialist medical practitioners.
"If people want to try and draw any sort of link from this instance 6 years ago to me winning Olympic Gold in Rio 2016, then good luck to them. This amounts to a pathetic attempt to smear me personally and Team GB as a whole. I believe in clean sport, only clean sport and always will.
"What I am concerned about though is what the public perception of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (or TUE's as they are more commonly known), may have become over the past few days. These data leaks and headlines are making people who don't understand the process or what TUE stands for, think they are in some ways a licence to cheat... They are not.
"I am greatly concerned the next generation of athletes could turn TUE's down because they have now become so tarnished through these stories that they are almost 'dirty words'.
"My real worry going forward is in future Olympic cycles there will be a hockey girl like me, chasing her Olympic dream and pushing her body to its limit in that plight. She will become out of breath due to asthma, and will need an inhaler; not to get an unfair sporting advantage, but to breathe. To make sure she does not die. Yet she will think twice about using one, or perhaps use it and feel guilty about doing so, or worst still, refuse to use it completely.
"These type of stories, framed as 'leaks' to give them an air of mystery or the idea that an athlete has been rumbled, only serve to make people up and down the country question their athletes and quantify their seemingly super-human efforts as exactly that, super-human, or impossible without cheating. TUE's aren't about cheating, they are essential, sometimes even life-saving medical practices and should be viewed as such.
"Anything other than this is letting the hackers win, letting them undermine our athletes and Team GB as a whole; and the subsequent ripple effect of this for future athletes could be horrendous."