A Russian hackers group has claimed that it has uncovered files which show that several American athletes, including those who won gold medals at the recently concluded Rio Olympics, were allowed to take banned substances by the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA).
The group, known as Fancy Bears, has leaked several documents on their website which, they say, prove that athletes including tennis sisters Serena and Venus Williams and gymnast Simone Biles recorded positive drug tests.
Partnering Rajeev Ram, Venus had won silver in the Rio Olympics, beating the Indian pair of Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza in the semifinals. Biles had won four gold medals at the 2016 Games, including in the vault — an event in which India’s Dipa Karmakar finished fourth.
According to documents released by the Fancy Bears hack team, Serena was allowed to take banned substances such as oxycodone, hydromorphone, prednisone and methylprednisolone in 2010, 2014 and 2015. Venus was allowed to take prednisone, prednisolone and triamcinolone, among others, in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, the group stated.
Biles, who won four gold medals in the 2016 Rio Olympics, tested positive for methylphenidate in August, but she was not disqualified, the group stated, adding that in 2013 and 2014, she was allowed to take dextroamphetamine.
Even if documents that show the athletes tested positive for banned substances are genuine, it does not mean that they doped. The documents show no violations of the WADA code. It appears that the athletes may have taken substances for which they have a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) — waivers that allow athletes to treat medical conditions with medications that may appear on WADA’s prohibited items list.
In fact, Biles, who tested positive for methylphenidate, had claimed a TUE for FocalinXR, used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Serena was treated with corticosteroids for injuries. But the documents do not reveal the diagnoses of the athletes, which led to WADA allowing them to take the substances.
The international gymnastics body (FIG) and tennis body (ITF) have since been quoted as saying the athletes were permitted to use the banned substances. “She (Biles) has a therapeutic use exemption, there is nothing we have to mention about that, everything is absolutely clear and according to the rules,” an FIG representative told RT. “The Williams sisters had permission for the therapeutic use of banned drugs,” the ITF was quoted as saying by TASS.
Fancy Bears alleged that the use of TUE was essentially a way of sanctioning doping by WADA. “In other words, they just got their licenses for doping. This is other evidence that WADA and IOC’s Medical and Scientific Department are corrupt and deceitful,” a statement on their website read.
WADA, meanwhile, confirmed that the Russian hacking group known had gained access to their database. “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,” said Olivier Niggli, WADA’s director general.