Russian hackers leak medical files of US Olympians

A Russian group going by the name “Fancy Bears” has hacked into the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and leaked confidential medical information of US Olympic athletes. 

Russian hackers leak medical files of US Olympians

The group published records on four female athletes: gymnast Simone Biles, tennis players Venus and Serena Williams, and basketball player Elena Delle Donne. Each person’s so-called “Therapeutic Use Exemptions” details were leaked, outlining athlete’s exemptions from using banned substances due to medical needs.

After the data breach, USA Gymnastics put out a statement saying Biles had filed the proper paperwork and there was no violation of anti-doping rules. Biles herself posted a statement on Twitter, explaining that she has taken medicine for ADHD since she was a child.

“WADA condemns these ongoing cyber-attacks that are being carried out in an attempt to undermine WADA and the global anti-doping system,” said Olivier Niggli, director general of WADA.

“WADA has been informed by law enforcement authorities that these attacks are originating out of Russia. 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.”

Russia faced numerous accusations of state-sponsored doping violations in the lead-up to the Rio Olympics. Although its Olympic team wasn’t banned outright from taking part in the game, its track-and-field team were prevented from competing. The whole of the country’s Paralympic team was also barred.

Given this, it’s not a stretch to interpret the actions of the hackers as an attempt to undermine both the US Olympic team and the Olympics’ anti-doping system.

“After detailed studying of the hacked WADA databases, we figured out that dozens of American athletes had tested positive,” Fancy Bears stated on its website. “The Rio Olympic medalists regularly used illicit strong drugs justified by certificates of approval for therapeutic use. In other words, they just got their licences for doping. This is other evidence that WADA and IOC’s Medical and Scientific Department are corrupt and deceitful.”

The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) head Travis Tygart said in a statement that it was “unthinkable” for the group to “illegally obtain confidential medical information in an attempt to smear athletes to make it look as if they have done something wrong.

“In fact, in each of the situations, the athlete has done everything right in adhering to the global rules for obtaining permission to use a needed medication,” he added.

Image: Agência Brasil Fotografias

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