Sports fans take accusations of doping seriously. Doping is the unauthorized use of a performance enhancing drug such as steroids and human growth hormones. One only has to look to the fallen careers of bicyclist Lance Armstrong, baseball player Barry Bonds and track star Marion Jones to see the impact a failed test can have on an athlete. After a recent breach of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s system, Russian hackers may be trying to add other U.S. athletes to the list of disgraced athletes.
The World Anti-Doping Agency Sept. 13 confirmed in a statement that Russia hackers named Tsar Team (APT28), also known as Fancy Bear, gained access to WADA’s Anti-Doping Administration and Management System. WADA said that Fancy Bear gained access to the database by using an International Olympic Committee account that was to be used for the 2016 Rio Games. According to WADA, the account information was obtained through an e-mail phishing attack on one of its members.
Purported drug testing records on four-time gold medalist Simone Biles, tennis great Serena Williams and Women’s National Basketball Association star Elena Della Donne were released on Fancy Bear’s website as part of the hack. The records allegedly show that Biles and Della Donne took amphetamines and Williams took opioids and prescription steroids—prednisone and prednisolone.
WADA didn’t verify the accuracy of the released doping records. Regardless of the accuracy of the records, the reputational damage to the named athletes may be high.
Oliver Niggli, director general of WADA, said in a statement that the doping agency “condemns these ongoing cyber-attacks that are being carried out in an attempt to undermine WADA and the global anti-doping system.”
According to Fancy Bear’s website, the hacking group promises that more records will be released and that “this is just the tip of the iceberg.” Let’s hope the iceberg doesn’t include reports that would harm the integrity of beloved U.S. athletes.
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