A Russian hacking group that claimed to have accessed the World Anti-Doping Agency’s database alleged that American tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams and Rio Olympics gold medallist gymnast Simone Biles were allowed to consume banned substances.
The Fancy Bears’ hack team claimed to have leaked dozens of files allegedly relating to United States athletes on the internet, according to media reports. WADA later confirmed its database had been hacked.
“After detailed studying of the hacked WADA databases we figured out that dozens of American athletes had tested positive,” the Fancy Bears’ group claimed on its website.The files detailed instances of “adverse analytical findings” (AAFs) or their use of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs).
An AAF means that a substance on WADA’s banned list has been found in an athlete’s system but it is not classified as an anti-doping violation if it can be legitimately explained for a medical reason. A therapeutic use exemption is granted to athletes suffering from a condition or injury which requires treatment using medicine included on WADA’s banned list.
“The Rio Olympic medallists regularly used illicit strong drugs justified by certificates of approval for therapeutic use,” the group said.
“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.”
“As predicted, the USA dominated the 2016 Olympics medal count with 46 gold, 37 silver, 38 bronze for 121 total. The US team played well but not fair.”
Any possible participation of the Russian government or secret services in the hacking of the WADA data “is out of question”, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying on Tuesday by Russian news agencies.
WADA said in a statement that the Russian cyber espionage group Tsar Team (APT28), which is what Fancy Bear is also known as, had broken into its Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) database.
“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.
According to the Fancy Bears’ group, Serena was allowed to take banned substances such as oxycodone, hydromorphone, prednisone and methylprednisolone in 2010, 2014 and 2015.
Venus was allowed to take prednisone, prednisolone and triamcinolone among others in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, it said.
The documents do not reveal the diagnoses of the athletes which led to WADA allowing them to take the substances.
Gymnast Biles, who won four gold medals in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, tested positive for methylphenidate in August, but she was not disqualified. In 2013 and 2014, she was allowed to take dextroamphetamine, the group stated.
Meanwhile, WADA’s director general Olivier Niggli was quoted as saying that hackers have been trying to break into the agency’s website on a daily basis over the past three weeks.
The site also claimed American basketball star Elena Delle Donne’s drug test revealed that she had also used amphetamine. In addition, since 2014 she has been taking hydrocortisone that is also classified as doping.
The entire Russian athletics team was barred from competing in Rio after systemic doping breaches were exposed earlier this year.
A spokeswoman for the IOC blasted the hacking, stating none of the athletes named in the files were guilty of doping offences.
“The IOC strongly condemns such methods, which clearly aim at tarnishing the reputation of clean athletes,” the spokeswoman told AFP.