In a September 13 press release the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced that it had traced an intrusion into its computer system to a hacker group allegedly operated by the Russian government.
In its statement, the WDA said the “Russian cyber espionage group operator by the name of Tsar Team (APT28), also known as Fancy Bear” illegally gained access to WDA’s computer databases using an account created by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the 2016 Rio Summer Games.
The hackers released information concerning gymnast Simone Biles, tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, and basketball player Elena Delle Donne. The athletes all received therapeutic-use exemptions for the prescribed drugs they used.
The former WNBA Rookie of the Year and MVP responded on Twitter:
Quick update! pic.twitter.com/5tuZNIpVLC
— Elena Delle Donne (@De11eDonne) September 13, 2016
The Russian group targeted medical records of athletes and seemed most especially interested in the therapeutic-use exemptions records. The statement came after the hacker group released some of the information it had stolen along with a threat that more would soon be released.
WADA noted that it found access to its Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) had been gained through phishing of email accounts resulting in passwords bing recovered to allow access to the system.
In the statement, Olivier Niggli, Director General, WADA, 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. We are reaching out to stakeholders, such as the IOC, IFs and NADOs, regarding the specific athletes impacted.
WADA condemns these ongoing cyber-attacks that are being carried out in an attempt to undermine WADA and the global anti-doping system. 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 further to the outcomes of the Agency’s independent McLaren Investigation Report.
WADA has shared its discovery with the various law enforcement branches across the world responsible for investigating such incidents.
This is not the only recent hacking of WADA databases. WADA reported in August, “Yuliya Stepanova’s password for ADAMS was illegally obtained, which allowed a perpetrator to access her account on ADAMS. Ms. Stepanova was the key whistleblower for WADA’s Independent Pound Commission that exposed widespread doping in Russian athletics.”
All these cyber attacks come on the heels of dozens of athletes being punished for taking performance enhancing drugs, many of whom were Russian competitors.
Ahead of the Rio games, the entire Russian track and field team was banned for doping causing an international scandal that pulled in many athletes from other countries.
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