The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has blamed Russian hackers for posting confidential medical information online about top US Olympians.
Gymnast Simone Biles and tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams were among those to have had their details posted online by a “Russian cyber espionage group” called Fancy Bears. The hackers revealed records of ‘Therapeutic Use Exemptions’, which allow athletes to use substances that are otherwise banned due to a verified medical need.
Wada had previously warned of cyber-attacks after reports into state-sponsored doping in Russia were revealed by investigators. Last month, hackers obtained a database password for Russian runner Yuliya Stepanova, who was a whistleblower in Wada’s investigations into Russian doping.
“These criminal acts are greatly compromising the effort by the global anti-doping community to re-establish trust in Russia,” Wada director general Olivier Niggli (pictured) said. Wada added that it had “extended its investigation with the relevant law enforcement authorities.”
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said: “There can be no talk about any official or government involvement, any involvement of Russian agencies in those actions. It's absolutely out of the question. Such unfounded accusations don't befit any organisation, if they aren't backed by substance.”
The International Olympic Committee confirmed that none of the athletes had violated any anti-doping rules during the 2016 summer Olympic Games in Rio and added that it “strongly condemns such methods which clearly aim at tarnishing the reputation of clean athletes.”
Travis Tygart, chief executive of the US Anti-Doping Agency, said: “The cyberbullying of innocent athletes being engaged in by these hackers is cowardly and despicable.”
In other news, the IOC has sanctioned four Russian athletes who competed at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics.
Maria Abakumova, who came second in the javelin at the 2008 Games, was stripped of her medal after a re-analysis of stored samples uncovered a positive test for the banned substance dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, or turinabol. Runners Inga Abitova and Denis Alexeev, who competed in Beijing, as well as track cyclist Ekaterina Gnidenko, who participated in London, were also disqualified, although they failed to finish in the top three in their events.