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WADA slams Russia over hack attack

September 13, 2016

Police say Russian hackers broke into WADA's database and stole data of athletes who competed in last month's Olympics. WADA slammed the Russian attack, saying the Kremlin is making it difficult to re-establish trust.

Poster reads : Say no to doping
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/J.C.Bott

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said Russian hackers have breached the agency's database and published athletes' confidential information.

WADA issued a statement fingering the Russian cyber espionage group Tsar Team (APT28), also known as Fancy Bear, for having broken into its Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) database.

Earlier on Tuesday the group published information pilfered from the files of US Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams and US women's basketball player Elena Delle Donne.

WADA's director general Olivier Niggli slammed the attacks, the second in recent months, and the publishing of private information.

"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," Niggli said in a statement.

"WADA condemns these ongoing cyber-attacks that are being carried out in an attempt to undermine WADA and the global anti-doping system," Niggli added. "WADA has been informed by law enforcement authorities that these attacks are originating out of Russia."

Niggli also said such attacks do not help Russia's standing in international athletics.

"These criminal acts are greatly compromising the effort by the global anti-doping community to re-establish trust in Russia," Niggli said.

The Fancy Bear group published files detailing instances of "adverse analytical findings" (AAFs).

A doping violation, or not

An AAF means that a banned substance has been found in an athlete's system but is not listed as an anti-doping violation if the athlete can prove there is a legitimate medical reason for its use.

A therapeutic use exemption is granted to athletes suffering from an injury that requires treatment using drugs included on WADA's banned list.

A spokeswoman for the IOC blasted the hacking, stating none of the athletes named in the files were guilty of doping offences.

"The IOC strongly condemns such methods, which clearly aim at tarnishing the reputation of clean athletes," the unnamed spokeswoman said. "The IOC can confirm however that the athletes mentioned did not violate any anti-doping rules during the Olympic Games Rio 2016."

Last month WADA confirmed that its system was infiltrated, and the hackers broke into the file of Yuliya Stepanova, the Russian whistleblower.

Stepanova is living in hiding in the United States after she blew the lid on a massive state-sponsored doping regime for Russian athletes. As a result the entire Russian track and field team - except for one athlete who trained in the US - was banned from last month's Olympic games in Brazil.

Stepanova said she now fears for her life following last month's hack attack.

bik/rc (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)