State Hackers: Russia Invade Anti-Doping (WADA) Database

The World Anti-Doping Association’s (WADA) database has been under attack for weeks, its president Craig Reedie told the BBC. 

Reedie’s remarks came a day after WADA revealed the Russian cyber-espionage group Tsar Team (APT28), also known as Fancy Bears, had broken into its Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) database.

The hacking group released information gleaned from the files of US Olympic gymnastic star Biles, tennis legends the Williams sisters — Venus and Serena. 

And US women’s basketball player Elena Delle Donne, claiming US athletes at the Olympics had “played well but not fair”.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) characterized the hack as a “cowardly and despicable” attempt to smear the four women.
Rio 2016 Olympics 

“In each of the situations, the athlete has done everything right in adhering to the global rules for obtaining permission to use a needed medication,” USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said. 

The cyber-bullying of innocent athletes being engaged by these hackers is cowardly and despicable,” added Tygart, the anti-doping czar who famously helped expose US cyclist and dope cheat Lance Armstrong.

Biles said on Twitter she had taken medications for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) since childhood. 

“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,” said Biles, one of the stars of the Rio Olympics after winning four gold medals.

Venus Williams meanwhile expressed “disappointment” at the breach, stating: “I am one of the strongest supporters of maintaining the highest level of integrity in competitive sport.” Delle Donne laughed off the revelations in a upbeat post on Twitter.

“I’d like to thank the hackers for making the world aware that I legally take a prescription for a condition that I’ve been diagnosed with, which WADA granted me an exemption for. Thanks guys!” the basketball player wrote.

And Reedie, who is also a senior member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said there was little doubt despite denials by the Russian government the hackers came from Russia.

“We have pretty authoritative information that they have close connections to Russia,” said Reedie. “They have been attacking our system now for weeks.

“We have been under attack for weeks. This is an attack on the anti-doping system and it’s rather unhelpful at the moment,” added Reedie in reference to the ongoing efforts to bring Russia into line after the damning WADA-commissioned independent report that revealed state sponsored doping. 

“Russia have claimed at the very highest level that they understand they have a problem, but they still seem in some ways to be in denial. If we have to make the biggest country in the world compliant in anti-doping terms, then this is distinctly unhelpful.”

Reedie, whose body advocated a ban on all Russian athletes at the Rio Games before the IOC controversially ruled federations should decide on the eligibility of each one in their respective sports to compete, said the hacking had to stop.

The Fancy Bears have threatened to release more files saying those already published were just the “tip of the iceberg”.

“I hope the court of world opinion will see that this is an attack on the system, that it is unwarranted and that it has to stop,” said Reedie. None of the documents published by the group provided evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the athletes involved.

Instead, the disclosed files set out instances where the athletes had been granted exemptions to use various medications for legitimate reasons — a common practice in the sports world. Reedie confirmed this saying there was nothing sinister in the details that had been revealed.

“There is a long-established system of therapeutic use exemptions whereby an athlete who requires to take medicine that may be on the prohibited list can get an exemption to do so, provided it is certified properly by medical people and then certified by the relevant international federation,” said Reedie.” — AFP.

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