Hacktivists have released files claiming that top US athletes, including Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Elena Delle Donne and Simone Biles, received a green light from WADA to take banned substances. The US anti-doping agency, sports federations and athletes themselves have gone public to deny any wrongdoing. [See Simone Biles’ Twitter response below.]
The allegations were published on the website of the hacktivist group Fancy Bear, which described the revelations as being “just the tip of the iceberg.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has released a statement confirming and condemning the cyber attack. It noted that the cyber intrusion was conducted by a Russian hacker team and that it is taking the attack “very seriously.”
“The group accessed athlete data, including confidential medical data – such as Therapeutic Use Exemptions delivered by International Sports Federations (IFs) and National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs) – related to the Rio Games.”
According to the body, the information was obtained “through spear phishing of email accounts.”
“WADA condemns these ongoing cyber-attacks that are being carried out in an attempt to undermine WADA and the global anti-doping system,” said Olivier Niggli, WADA director general.
The documents were published days after Wada revealed that its systems had been bombarded by daily attacks since Russian track-and-field athletes were banned from the Olympics and the country was thrown out of the Paralympics for state-sponsored doping.
Wada director general 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.
“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.”
The head of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, Travis Tygart – who famously brought down Lance Armstrong – said: “The cyber-bullying of innocent athletes being engaged by these hackers is cowardly and despicable.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has strongly denied any possible Russian involvement in the hacking attack on WADA.