HACKED: Gymnast Simone Biles
THE WORLD Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has condemned Russian hackers for leaking confidential medical records of elite US Olympic athletes.
Athletes affected by the exposure of the information include tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams, along with teenage quadruple gold-winning gymnast Simone Biles and basketball player Elena Delle Donne.
A cyber espionage group, called Fancy Bear, has taken responsibility for the publication of “Therapeutic Use Exemptions” (TUEs), which permit athletes to use certain banned substances provided they have a verified medical reason to do so.
The group, also known as Tsar Team, claimed the TUEs counted as evidence of doping by US Olympians, saying in a statement: “After detailed studying of the hacked WADA databases we figured out that dozens of American athletes had tested positive.”
“The Rio Olympic medallists regularly used illicit strong drugs justified by certificates of approval for therapeutic use. In other words, they just got their licences for doping,” the statement continued.
Previously, WADA had warned that it might face cyberattacks, following its investigators’ revelations of Russian state-sponsored doping in the run-up to the Rio Games this summer – which resulted in Russia’s track and field team being banned from the Olympics. All of Russia’s athletes are barred from the ongoing Paralympics, too.
And Olivier Niggli, WADA’s director general, believes the attacks to be an attempt to undermine WADA and the global anti-doping system.
“WADA condemns these ongoing cyber-attacks that are being carried out in an attempt to undermine WADA and the global anti-doping system,” he said.
UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Serena Williams (left) and Venus Williams
“Let it be known that these criminal acts are greatly compromising the effort by the global anti-doping community to re-establish trust in Russia further to the outcomes of the Agency’s independent McLaren Investigation Report,” Niggli added.
WADA said it believed the hack was carried out using “spear fishing” emails to obtain passwords for its Anti-Doping Administration and Management System database.
Among the athletes affected was gymnast Biles, who said she had long been taking medicine for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), obtaining the necessary permission to take the prescription medicine on Wada’s banned drugs list.
She posted a statement on Twitter yesterday (Sept 13) which said: “I have ADHA and I have taken medicine for it since I was a kid.
“Please know, I believe in clean sport, have always followed the rules, and will continue to do so as fair play is critical to sport and is very important to me.”