Sport

WADA slams Russian hackers fishing for doping scandal

Serena (left) and Venus Williams' medical records were hacked by Russian cyber spies
Serena (left) and Venus Williams' medical records were hacked by Russian cyber spies Reuters/Tony O'Brien

The World Anti-Doping Agency has slammed Russian hackers who breached its database and published confidential records of US athletes. Russia accuses WADA of "double standards" while the United States calls the hack "cowardly".

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WADA said that the Russian cyber-espionage group Tsar Team, known as Fancy Bears, had broken into its Anti-Doping Administration and Management System database.

The hacking group released information from the files of US Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, and US women's basketball player Elena Delle Donne. In a posting on its website, Fancy Bears claimed US athletes at the Olympics had "played well, but not fair".

Nikolai Durmanov, the former head of the Russian National Anti-Doping Agency, accused WADA of double standards.

"We're talking about forbidden substances that are usually used in the intensive care unit," Durmanov said. "What are they doing here in high level sports? It's a cocktail of drugs that would have cost the career of any other sportsman."

However, 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.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency characterised the hack as a "cowardly and despicable" attempt to smear the four women.

Biles said on Twitter she had taken medications for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) since childhood. Venus Williams meanwhile expressed her "disappointment" at the breach.

An International Olympic Committee spokesperson said the leaked information was "clearly aimed at tarnishing the reputation of clean athletes" while reiterating that no anti-doping violation had occurred.

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