Hackers Gain Access to Athletes’ Private Medical Records Again

The world’s athletics governing body – the sports organization that has sanctioned Russia the most for state-sponsored doping – said on Monday that its computer network had been compromised by the same Russian cyberespionage group as officials of the US intelligence have linked to a broad effort to influence the US presidential election. The hackers were able to access the private medical records of the athletes, the athletics body said.

The International Association of Athletics Federations, the sport’s governing body, said it discovered the attacks on February 21. She attributed them to Fancy Bear, a group that stole files from global anti-doping regulators last year, after the regulator recommended that Russia be banned. of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Intelligence officials and forensic experts have linked Fancy Bear to the Russian military intelligence agency.

The IAAF said on Monday it had consulted with British and Monegasque authorities, where the organization is headquartered, and secured its network in recent days.

“Our first priority is those athletes who have provided the IAAF with information they believe to be safe and confidential,” said Sebastian Coe, IAAF President, in a statement, noting that all athletes who had filed medical records since 2012 had been informed. “They have our sincerest apologies and our full commitment to continue to do everything in our power to remedy the situation.”

Last year, Fancy Bear hacked into the athlete database of the World Anti-Doping Agency, the world regulator of drugs in sport, as well as the email account of an employee of the United States Anti-Doping Agency. . The two organizations had recommended that Russia be excluded from the 2016 Olympics for elaborate cheating in previous Games.

Until the end of 2016, Fancy Bear published the confidential medical information of more than 100 athletes – mostly from Great Britain and the United States – as well as emails from anti-doping officials in the United States and Canada. As of Monday afternoon, no new information had been published on the site, titled #OpOlympics.

Russian hackers and sports officials have argued that the stolen records show that Western athletes have received unfair benefits through exemptions from therapeutic use or special waivers for taking drugs that are generally prohibited.

Any athlete can request such a waiver, for example by requesting permission to use an inhaler or take medication to treat attention deficit disorder. World anti-doping and sport officials denounced the disclosures, noting that none of the athletes involved had done anything wrong and all had sought the appropriate clearances.

In January, in a declassified intelligence report covering the US election, US intelligence officials said Fancy Bear’s intrusions into the World Anti-Doping Agency came from the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency also involved in the theft. emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee. Officials suggested that the Russian state was motivated by revenge.

“Putin publicly called the Panama Papers disclosure and the Olympic doping scandal US-led efforts to defame Russia, suggesting he was seeking to use disclosures to discredit the image of the United States and the United States. qualify as hypocrite, “the report said, referring to Russian President Vladimir V. Putin.

The IAAF was among the first and most forceful to discipline Russia for systematic doping, suspending the nation in 2015 and voting last summer to ban Russia from the Rio Olympics. Only one Russian track and field athlete, who lived and trained in the United States, was allowed to compete.

Russia remains excluded from world athletics competitions and looks set to miss this summer’s world championships in London. Sporting officials have suggested that November may be the earliest the country will be restored to good standing.

While Russian officials have largely apologized for the doping issues, they have also regularly referred to the information stolen from Fancy Bear.

“Russia has never had the opportunities that have been offered to other countries,” Vitaly Smirnov, a former senior Russian sports official appointed by Putin to reform the country’s anti-doping system, told The New York Times in Moscow in December, referring to the World Anti-Hacked Doping Agency files as evidence. “The general feeling in Russia is that we didn’t stand a chance.”

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