The athlete database of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has been hacked, and the hackers have exposed private medical information about famed U.S. athletes Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Simone Biles.
On Sept. 13, the WADA confirmed the authenticity of the documents, and attributed the attack to Russian cyberespionage group known as Fancy Bear, reports The New York Times.
Fancy Bear is believed to be associated with a Russian military intelligence agency that was suspected of stealing emails and other digital documents from the Democratic National Committee. However, a spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin, Dmitry Peskov, dismissed speculation that the Russian government was involved in the WADA hacking. “It’s simply ruled out,” he said.
The website of Fancy Bear, which looks surprisingly unsophisticated for a group of computer geeks, has the following manifesto on its home page:
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Greetings citizens of the world. Allow us to introduce ourselves… We are Fancy Bears' international hack team. We stand for fair play and clean sport.
We announce the start of #OpOlympics. We are going to tell you how Olympic medals are won. We hacked World Anti-Doping Agency databases and we were shocked with what we saw.
We will start with the U.S. team which has disgraced its name by tainted victories.
We will also disclose exclusive information about other national Olympic teams later. Wait for sensational proof of famous athletes taking doping substances any time soon.
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We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.
However, the documents so far exposed on the famous athletes hardly live up to the hype.
They do show that Biles and the Williams sisters used banned drugs, but also that they received proper medical exemptions to use them, and thus none of the positive drugs tests for those athletes constituted a violation.
“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,” said Travis T. Tygart, president of the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
However, Fancy Bear’s website claims: “This is just the tip of the iceberg.... Today’s sport is truly contaminated while the world is unaware of the large number of American doping athletes.”