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Wada hit by fresh hacking of athletes database

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has said it is liaising with the “highest level” law enforcement and IT security agencies after confirming the group of Russian cyber hackers known as ‘Fancy Bears’ has leaked another batch of confidential athletes information from its database.

Similar to the leak that the Agency announced on Tuesday, the group has now released the confidential athlete data of 25 athletes, from eight countries, into the public domain. The targeted athletes include 10 from the United States, five from Germany, five from Great Britain, one from the Czech Republic, one from Denmark, one from Poland, one from Romania, and one from Russia.

Wada did not disclose the identities of the athletes involved, but UK broadcaster the BBC today (Thursday) said they include British cyclists Sir Bradley Wiggins (pictured), the country's most-decorated Olympian, and three-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome.

The BBC said the Czech Republic’s two-time Wimbledon tennis champion Petra Kvitova is also affected, along with Germany’s Robert Harting, who won gold in the discus event at London’s 2012 Olympic Games. The list also names 11 medallists from Rio 2016, including American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who won tennis gold in the mixed doubles.

Fancy Bears has gained access to Wada’s Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) via an International Olympic Committee (IOC)-created account for Rio 2016. Confined to the Games, the account includes such confidential medical data as Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) delivered by International Sports Federations (IFs) and National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs). The group is releasing the data that it has obtained from this account in batches.

TUEs allow athletes to use substances that are otherwise banned due to a verified medical need. Commenting on the latest breach, Wada director general Olivier Niggli said: “Wada is very mindful that this criminal attack, which to date has recklessly exposed personal data of 29 athletes, will be very distressing for the athletes that have been targeted; and, cause apprehension for all athletes that were involved in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“To those athletes that have been impacted, we regret that criminals have attempted to smear your reputations in this way; and, assure you that we are receiving intelligence and advice from the highest level law enforcement and IT security agencies that we are putting into action.

“Given this intelligence and advice, Wada has no doubt that these ongoing attacks are being carried out in retaliation against the Agency, and the global anti-doping system, because of our independent Pound and McLaren investigations that exposed state-sponsored doping in Russia.

“We condemn this criminal activity and have asked the Russian Government to do everything in their power to make it stop. Continued cyber-attacks emanating from Russia seriously undermine the work that is being carried out to rebuild a compliant anti-doping program in Russia.”

Gymnast Simone Biles and tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams were among the US athletes to have their details posted online on Tuesday. 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.