Rus­sians hack US med­i­cal records, re­lease pri­vate info

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

THE World Anti-Dop­ing Agency has slammed Rus­sian hack­ers who breached its data­base and pub­lished con­fi­den­tial records of US Olympic gym­nast Si­mone Biles and ten­nis stars Venus and Ser­ena Wil­liams.

WADA said in a state­ment that the Rus­sian cy­ber-es­pi­onage group Tsar Team (APT28), also known as Fancy Bears, had bro­ken into its Anti-Dop­ing Ad­min­is­tra­tion and Man­age­ment Sys­tem (ADAMS) data­base.

The hack­ing group re­leased information gleaned from the files of Biles, the Wil­liams sis­ters and US women’s bas­ket­ball player Elena Delle Donne.

In a post­ing on its web­site, Fancy Bears claimed US ath­letes at the Olympics had “played well but not fair”.

How­ever, none of the doc­u­ments pub­lished by the group pro­vided ev­i­dence of wrong­do­ing on the part of the ath­letes in­volved.

In­stead, the dis­closed files set out in­stances where the ath­letes had been granted ex­emp­tions to use var­i­ous med­i­ca­tions for le­git­i­mate rea­sons – a com­mon prac­tice in the sports world.

The United States Anti-Dop­ing Agency (USADA) char­ac­terised the hack as a “cow­ardly and de­spi­ca­ble” at­tempt to smear the four women.

“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,” USADA chief ex­ec­u­tive Travis Ty­gart said.

“The cy­ber-bul­ly­ing of in­no­cent ath­letes be­ing en­gaged by these hack­ers is cow­ardly and de­spi­ca­ble,” added Ty­gart, the anti-dop­ing czar who fa­mously helped ex­pose US cy­clist and dope cheat Lance Arm­strong.

Biles said on Twit­ter she had taken med­i­ca­tions for attention deficit/ hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der (ADHD) since child­hood.

“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,” said Biles, one of the stars of the Rio Olympics af­ter win­ning four gold medals.

Venus Wil­liams, mean­while, ex­pressed “dis­ap­point­ment” at the breach, stat­ing, “I am one of the strong­est sup­port­ers of main­tain­ing the high­est level of in­tegrity in com­pet­i­tive sport.”

Delle Donne laughed off the rev­e­la­tions in a up­beat post on Twit­ter.

“I’d like to thank the hack­ers for mak­ing the world aware that I legally take a pre­scrip­tion for a con­di­tion that I’ve been di­ag­nosed with, which WADA granted me an ex­emp­tion for. Thanks guys!” the bas­ket­ball player wrote.

An In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee (IOC) spokesper­son said the leaked information was “clearly aimed at tar­nish­ing the rep­u­ta­tion of clean ath­letes” while re­it­er­at­ing that no an­ti­dop­ing vi­o­la­tion had oc­curred.

The data breach comes just weeks af­ter hack­ers gained ac­cess to WADA’s file on Rus­sian dop­ing whistle­blower Yu­lia Stepanova.

Stepanova, who is liv­ing in hid­ing in the United States, later said she feared for her life fol­low­ing the hack.

“WADA deeply re­grets this sit­u­a­tion and is very con­scious of the threat that it rep­re­sents to ath­letes whose con­fi­den­tial information has been di­vulged through this crim­i­nal act,” WADA direc­tor gen­eral Olivier Nig­gli said in a state­ment.

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

WADA said it be­lieved the lat­est breach had oc­curred af­ter “spear phish­ing” of email ac­counts and that it had been con­fined to ADAMS ac­counts of ath­letes com­pet­ing in Rio.

Spear phish­ing is when an email user re­ceives a mes­sage pur­port­edly from some­one they know, but it is ac­tu­ally from a hacker.

The hack­ing comes af­ter a se­ries of WADA in­ves­ti­ga­tions which have al­leged a vast state-spon­sored dop­ing pro­gram in Rus­sian sport dat­ing back sev­eral years.

Rus­sia’s track and field ath­letes were banned from the Rio Olympics by the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Athletics Fed­er­a­tions, an­ger­ing the Krem­lin, which con­demned the move as po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

But an in­de­pen­dent re­port com­mis­sioned by WADA and pub­lished in July by Cana­dian law pro­fes­sor Richard McLaren con­cluded that Rus­sia had run an elab­o­rate scheme to evade drug testers at the 2014 Win­ter Olympics in Sochi, cor­rob­o­rat­ing claims by the for­mer head of Rus­sia’s anti-dop­ing lab­o­ra­tory.

WADA direc­tor Nig­gli said the hack­ing of the agency would ham­per Rus­sian ef­forts to rein­te­grate into the sports world.

“These crim­i­nal acts are greatly com­pro­mis­ing the ef­fort by the global an­ti­dop­ing com­mu­nity to re-es­tab­lish trust in Rus­sia fur­ther to the out­comes of the agency’s in­de­pen­dent McLaren In­ves­ti­ga­tion Re­port,” Nig­gli con­tin­ued.

Fancy Bears, how­ever, in­di­cated it planned to re­lease more information.

“This is just the tip of the ice­berg,” the group said on its web­site.

“Wait for sen­sa­tional proof of fa­mous ath­letes tak­ing dop­ing sub­stances any time soon.” –

Pho­tos: EPA

Venus Wil­liams (top left), Si­mone Biles (top right), Ser­ena Wil­liams (bot­tom left) and Elena Delle Donne (bot­tom right) have been hacked by the Rus­sian cy­beres­pi­onage team Tsar Team, also known as Fancy Bears.

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