KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: The hackers have struck again at the World Anti-Doping Agency, leaking another batch of athletes’ medical data — but, hopefully, forcing a debate on the validity and operation of the TUE system.
Outside observers, living their normal daily and largely healthy lives, may be surprised by the apparently high number of leading sportsmen and women who have health conditions needing regular prescriptive treatment.
If the effect of the hacking – as with the Stepanova whistleblowing case – helps force further transparency on the murky world of doping then sport, and even WADA itself grudgingly, may end up welcoming the spotlight.
In the latest breach of security – and no data system is safe – WADA has confirmed that the Russian cyber hacking group Fancy Bear [aka Tsar Team (APT28)] has ripped out further hitherto confidential information from ADAMS (anti-doping administration and management system).
This followed a leak earlier this week concerning the likes of Simone Biles and the Williams sisters Serena and Venus.
This time the group released the data concerning 25 athletes, from eight countries. This also had the effect of showing that, contrary to the group’s initial claim, the TUE option is not a specifically United States issue but one which crosses many countries and sports.
The targeted athletes include 10 from the United States, five from Germany, five from Great Britain, one from the Czech Republic, one from Denmark, one from Poland, one from Romania, and one from Russia. The data was obtained through a comparatively sumple phising methodology of an account created for the International Olympic Committee for the Rio 2016 Games.
A WADA statement said: “Confined to the Games, the account includes such confidential medical data as Therapeutic Use Exemptions delivered by International Sports Federations (IFs) and National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs).”
WADA director-general Olivier Niggli said: “WADA is very mindful that this criminal attack, which to date has recklessly exposed personal data of 29 athletes, will be very distressing for the athletes that have been targeted; and, cause apprehension for all athletes that were involved in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“To those athletes that have been impacted, we regret that criminals have attempted to smear your reputations in this way; and, assure you that we are receiving intelligence and advice from the highest level law enforcement and IT security agencies that we are putting into action.”
Amid WADA’s embarrassment, it might also reflect that high-profile athletes might reasonably consider transparency a better defence of their health status than reliance on a secret file within WADA’s ADAMS system.
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