Russian Hackers Expose Medical Records of Simone Biles, Williams Sisters, in Effort to Start Doping Scandal
Posted on: September 14, 2016, 11:38h.
Last updated on: September 14, 2016, 12:22h.
Russian hackers infiltrated the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) database this week and are now exposing what they found.
The hackers publicized the medical records of several prominent US Olympic athletes, including gymnastics all-around gold medal winner Simone Biles and superstar tennis sisters Serena and Venus Williams.
The espionage group behind the attack, self-titled the “Fancy Bears,” published documents showing Biles testing positive at the 2016 Rio Olympics for methylphenidate, a banned WADA substance. The Williams sisters didn’t test positive in Rio, but records show Serena was using prednisolone, another banned drug, in June.
But the WADA says no doping violations actually occurred, and noted that the athletes had special exemptions, allowing them to use the drugs. The WADA confirmed the hacking in a statement released on September 13.
“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,” WADA Director Olivier Niggli said. “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.”
Biles was the heavy favorite entering the Summer Olympics in Brazil. The 19-year-old was fresh off of winning the Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships and P&G Championships.
In Las Vegas, sportsbooks had her at -350 to win the individual all-around gold medal. Gabby Douglas, the 2012 all-around Olympic champion, was at +450.
A $350 wager on Biles to finish with the highest average of the four events returned the bettor $100. Biles cruised to victory finishing ahead of teammate Aly Raisman and bronze medal winner Rebeca Andrade from Brazil.
Using methylphenidate likely had no impact on those results.
The WADA allows athletes to use certain drugs otherwise prohibited, if there’s a verified therapeutic need. Biles uses the medication for her attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
“I have ADHD and I have taken medicine for it since I was a kid,” Biles said in a tweet. “Please know, 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.”
Like Biles, Serena was the gold favorite in her sport. Vegas sports books had her at around +120 to win the women’s title, but she faltered in the third round and exited the tournament without any hardware.
Prednisolone is an anti-inflammatory medicine. Williams was approved to use the drug for six days in June.
Bad News Bears
The “Fancy Bears” revelations aren’t too fancy, or even relevant. The alleged doping wasn’t in violation of any Olympic decree and shouldn’t cast the named athletes in a negative light, according to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
“In each of the situations, the athlete has done everything right in adhering to the global rules for obtaining permission to use a needed medication,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said. “The cyber-bullying of innocent athletes being engaged in by these hackers is cowardly and despicable.”
The hack was possibly an attempt on Russia’s part to paint the US in a negative light. In July, the International Olympic Committee banned 111 Russian athletes on allegations of doping.
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