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Russian Hackers Reveal Drug Test Results and Other Medical Data for Simone Biles and Williams Sisters
Russian hackers broke into a World Anti-Doping Agency database on Tuesday and obtained confidential medical information for a number of high-profile female American Olympians.
The victims include gymnastics gold medalist Simone Biles, tennis players Venus and Serena Williams, and basketball player Elena Delle Donne. However, while their privacy was violated, absolutely nothing illegal or incriminating was revealed.
WADA says the attack was carried out by a Russian cyber espionage group called the “Fancy Bears.” They obtained records of therapeutic use exemptions, or TUEs, which give athletes permission to use substances that are otherwise banned if there is an independently verified medical need.
Biles, for example, was revealed to have failed four drug tests during the Rio Olympics, testing positive for methylphenidate. However, Biles was granted a four-year exemption to use dexmethylphenidate to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in December 2014. So rules were broken.
The Williams sisters did not test positive for anything in Rio. However, the hackers did reveal a number of TUEs for previous conditions.
In a statement, Venus Williams decried the violation of her privacy.
“I was disappointed to learn today that my private, medical data has been compromised by hackers and published without my permission,” Williams said. “I have followed the rules established under the Tennis Anti-Doping Program in applying for, and being granted, ‘therapeutic use exemption.’”
Elena Delle Donne, who tested positive for FIBA-approved amphetamine use in Rio, took a more sarcastic tone in her response to the leak.
“I’d like to thank the hackers for making the world aware that I legally take a prescription for a condition I’ve been diagnosed with, which WADA granted me an exception for,” Delle Donne said in a Twitter post.
Quick update! pic.twitter.com/5tuZNIpVLC
— Elena Delle Donne (@De11eDonne) September 13, 2016
United States Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygert called the release of private information “an attempt to smear athletes” who have done nothing wrong and an act of “cyber-bullying.”
A spokesperson for Russian president Vladimir Putin rejected WADA’s claim that the breach was carried out by Russian hackers. But of course, he’s got a pretty big bone to pick with WADA, seeing as how they banned nearly a third of Russia’s athletes after uncovering a massive state-sponsored doping program.
However, there’s really no doubting who was behind the hack. The name Fancy Bears is a tonge-in-cheek reference to a collection of hackers that security experts have associated with Russia. On Tuesday, they took responsibility for the hack on their website, saying their aim was to show how Olympic medals are won.
“We will start with the U.S. team which has disgraced its name by tainted victories,” implying that more revelations are coming.
Of course, if forthcoming revelations are as harmless as the ones pertaining to the U.S. team, other nations need not worry.
Hat Tip – [ESPN]