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US Olympians Respond to Medical Data Hack

  • VOA News

A screenshot of the Fancy Bears website fancybear.net is seen on a computer screen in Moscow, Russia, Sept. 14, 2016. Confidential medical data of several U.S. Olympians hacked from a World Anti-Doping Agency database was posted online Sept. 13, 2016.

A screenshot of the Fancy Bears website fancybear.net is seen on a computer screen in Moscow, Russia, Sept. 14, 2016. Confidential medical data of several U.S. Olympians hacked from a World Anti-Doping Agency database was posted online Sept. 13, 2016.

Several U.S. Olympic athletes have taken to social media to respond to disclosures, allegedly by Russian hackers, that show they received exemptions to use banned drugs.

The hackers published confidential information earlier this week that was gleaned from anti-doping agency WADA medical records of gymnast Simone Biles, tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams and basketball star Elena Delle Donne.

United States' Simone Biles performs on the balance beam at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 7, 2016.

United States' Simone Biles performs on the balance beam at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 7, 2016.


Biles, a multiple gold medal winner, has acknowledged her use of Methylphenidate, a stimulant used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. In a statement on Twitter, Biles said she was diagnosed with ADHD as a child. "I believe in clean sport, have always followed the rules, and will continue to do so as fair play is critical to sport and is very important to me."


USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for the sport in the U.S., issued a statement on Twitter saying, "Biles was approved for a therapeutic-use exemption" and that Biles "has not broken any drug-testing regulations, including at the Olympic Games in Rio."


Venus Williams expressed disappointment that her private medical information was disclosed and emphasized she has followed the rules established by the Tennis Anti-Doping Program. "I am one of the strongest supporters of maintaining the highest level of integrity in competitive sport," she said.

Despite recovering in a hospital from surgery to repair her injured right thumb, Delle Donne posted a humorous response on Twitter. "I'd like to thank the hackers for making the world aware that I legally take a prescription for a condition that I've been diagnosed with, which WADA granted me an exemption for. Thanks guys!" she wrote in reference to the World Anti-Doping Agency.


WADA, meanwhile, issued a statement saying the Russian cyberespionage group Tsar Team (APT28), also known as Fancy Bears, was responsible for the breach. Computer forensics experts have linked the group to cyberattacks against the Democratic National Committee's servers and those belonging to government, corporate and non-profit entities.

None of the information published by the group provided evidence of wrongdoing by any of the athletes involved.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency strongly condemned the attempt to smear the reputations of the athletes. "The cyberbullying of innocent athletes being engaged by these hackers is cowardly and despicable," said chief executive Travis Tygart.

Russia has disputed WADA's allegations that Russian hackers were responsible for breaching its database. Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko said that Russian athletes were also victims of the cyber hack and that those responsible must be held to account.

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