Washington/Montreal, Sep 14 (IANS) A group of Russian computer hackers illegally gained access to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s athlete database and leaked confidential medical files of US Olympic athletes, Wada confirmed on Tuesday.
Athletes affected include tennis players Venus and Serena Williams and teenage gymnast Simone Biles, the BBC reported.
Accroding to Wada, a Russian cyber espionage group operator by the name of Tsar Team (APT28), also known as Fancy Bear, illegally gained access to WADA’s Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) database via an International Olympic Committee (IOC)-created account for the Rio 2016 Games.
The group accessed athlete data, including confidential medical data — such as Therapeutic Use Exemptions delivered by International Sports Federations (IFs) and National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs) — related to the Rio Games.
Wada said in a statement that the cyber attacks were an attempt to undermine the global anti-doping system.
“WADA condemns these ongoing cyber-attacks that are being carried out in an attempt to undermine WADA and the global anti-doping system,” Olivier Niggli, Director General, WADA, said in the statement.
Niggli said that WADA has been informed by law enforcement authorities that these attacks are originating out of Russia.
Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was “out of the question” that the Kremlin or secret services were involved in the hacking, Russian news agencies reported.
Russia’s track and field team were banned from the Rio Olympics over an alleged state-backed doping programme.
“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,” Niggli said.
Simone Biles, who won four gold medals in Rio, had obtained the necessary permission to take prescription medicine on the Wada banned drugs list, the BBC quoted USA Gymnastics as saying in a statement.
“By virtue of the TUE, Biles has not broken any drug-testing regulations, including at the Olympic Games in Rio,” it said.
“Simone and everyone at USA Gymnastics believe in the importance of a level playing field for all athletes.”
Fancy Bears said TUEs amount to “licences for doping”.