The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has condemned a Russian cyber group who hacked their system and released confidential medical information about US athletes taking banned substances.
The hackers posted documents claiming WADA allowed tennis players Serena and Venus Williams and gymnast Simone Biles to take banned substances.
Both the International Federation of Gymnasts and the International Tennis Federation said no rules had been broken and that the use of the substances was permitted under ‘Therepeutic Use Exemptions’.
The Russian group, who go by the name of ‘Fancy Bear’, illegally gained access to WADA’s so-called ‘Anti-Doping Administration and Management System’.
WADA confirmed that the hackers had access to athletes’ confidential information, including medical data.
Director general of WADA Olivier Niggli said: ‘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.
‘We are reaching out to stakeholders, such as the IOC (International Olympic Committee), Ifs (International Sports Federations) and NADOs (National Anti-Doping Organisations), regarding the specific athletes impacted.
‘WADA condemns these ongoing cyber-attacks that are being carried out in an attempt to undermine WADA and the global anti-doping system.
‘WADA has been informed by law enforcement authorities that these attacks are originating out of Russia.
‘Let it be known that these criminal acts are greatly compromising the effort by the global anti-doping community to re-establish trust in Russia further to the outcomes of the Agency’s independent McLaren Investigation Report.’
Russia’s track and field team were banned from the Rio Olympics over a state-backed doping programme.
Biles responded to the leaks by explaining she takes the banned substance as treatment for ADHD.
‘I have ADHD and I have taken medicine for it since I was a kid,’ she posted on Twitter.
‘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 important to me.’
Venus Williams also reacted angrily to the leak and said in a statement: ‘I was disappointed to learn today that my private medical data has been compromised by hackers and published without my permission.
‘I have followed the rules established under the Tennis Anti-Doping Program in applying for, and being granted, ‘therapeutic use expemptions’.
‘The applications for TUEs under the Tennis Anti-Doping Program require a strict process for approval which I have adhered to when serious medical conditions have occurred.
‘The exemptions posted in the hacked report are reviewed by an anonymous, independent group of doctors, and approved for legitimate medical reasons.
‘I am one of the strongest supporters of maintaining the highest level of integrity in competitive sport and I have been highly disciplined in following the guidelines set by WADA, USADA, the ITF and collectively the Tennis Anti-Doping Program.’