Russian hackers ac­cess U.S. athletes’ data, cry foul

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS - Rachel Axon @RachelAxon USA TO­DAY Sports

The World Anti-Dop­ing Agency con­firmed that its data­base had been ac­cessed by an out­fit WADA says is a Russian cy­ber es­pi­onage group.

Known as Fancy Bear, the group re­leased in­for­ma­tion on U.S. athletes Si­mone Biles, Elena Delle Donne, Ser­ena Wil­liams and Venus Wil­liams on its web­site Mon­day.

“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.

It’s at least the sec­ond time in the past month that a hacker has gained ac­cess to WADA’s Anti-Dop­ing Ad­min­is­tra­tion and Man­age­ment Sys­tem data­base.

WADA pre­vi­ously con­firmed that some­one ac­cessed the ac­count of Russian whis­tle-blower Yuliya Stepanova, an 800-me­ter run­ner who helped ex­pose wide­spread dop­ing in Russian track and field.

WADA said it thought Fancy Bear ac­cessed the Amer­i­cans’ data through an In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee ac­count cre­ated for the Rio Games by spear phish­ing email ac­counts to gain pass­words to its data­base. WADA said it had con­tacted rel­e­vant law en­force­ment.

In re­leas­ing the records Mon- day, Fancy Bear said it planned to re­lease more in­for­ma­tion.

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

The in­for­ma­tion pub­lished Mon­day in­cluded ad­verse find­ings from Rio and ther­a­peu­tic-use ex­emp­tions. Athletes can take a drug for which they might test pos­i­tive and not be sanc­tioned if they have a ther­a­peu­tic-use ex­emp­tion.

In a state­ment to Russian news agency TASS, the IOC said the athletes men­tioned did not vi­o­late anti-dop­ing rules.

U.S. Anti-Dop­ing Agency CEO Travis Ty­gart said in a state­ment, “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. ... The cy­ber­bul­ly­ing of in­no­cent athletes be­ing en­gaged in by these hackers is cow­ardly and de­spi­ca­ble.”

The leaked doc­u­ments showed Biles, who won four gym­nas­tics gold medals and a bronze, tested pos­i­tive for a drug used to treat at­ten­tion deficit hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der dur­ing the Rio Games.

She tweeted that she had ADHD and had taken med­i­ca­tion for it since she 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 crit­i­cal to me,” her tweet read.

Rus­sia has been mired in a dop­ing scan­dal for nearly a year.

JACK GRU­BER, USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Four U.S. Olympians, in­clud­ing gym­nast Si­mone Biles, saw their data hacked.

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