Hand GRU: how Western press reacted to the hacking of the WADA


Leak of confidential data about American athletes, initiated by the hacker group Fancy Bear, has caused a predictable criticism of the Western media. The press focused on the fact of theft of information, not on those drugs, which took a number of Olympians: their use in certain medical cases, the World anti-doping Agency (WADA) has called legal.

photo: Kirill Iskoldsky

It all started with the fact that the evening of September 13, the hacker organization called Fancy Bear, who is credited with the attack on the servers of the US Democratic party, published in the open access information about performance enhancing drugs, which took gymnast Simone Bilz (methylphenidate), tennis player Venus Williams (prednisone, triamcinolone, prednisolone and formoterol) and Serena Williams (dilaudid, prednisone, oxycodone, prednisone, methylprednisolone), and basketball player Elena Delle Donne (hydrocortisone and amphetamine).

Burglars said that it will publish data on the number of national teams, however will start with the American team, who “disgraced his name an undeserved victory”. According to them, dozens of American Olympians has passed positive tests for doping control. As the Financial Times, the statement of the hackers, written in English, contained numerous grammatical errors that are typical for native speakers.

The response of the WADA followed on the same day. As stated in its official statement, the group of cyber criminals that led the attack from Russia, has illegally gained access to the system of the anti-doping administration and management (ADAMS), which jeopardizes any attempts of the international community in the fight against doping. The Agency notes that those drugs that had been prescribed these athletes can be taken under medical indications, their admission was sanctioned by doctors. Press Secretary of Russian President Dmitry Peskov denied any involvement of the Kremlin to crack.

By assumption, WADA, the attack of the hackers have been just a section on the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. As tools the hackers probably used phishing attacks on email accounts that contained the passwords from the database. The international Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the athletes mentioned in connection with the hacking of the WADA, anything illegal is not accepted.

Venus Williams has publicly stated she is disappointed by entering her personal data into the hands of hackers, but, she said, she received “therapeutic permission for the use of drugs.” And Bails explained that from an early age treated for attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity. “You see, I believe in clean sport and always followed the rules,” she wrote on Twitter. But Elena Delle Donne did refer to the hacking of the WADA-with irony. “I want to thank the hackers who told the world that I take legally prescribed drugs,” wrote the basketball player on instagram.

“Cyber-bullying innocent athletes is cowardly and despicable. The time has come for the international community to stand up and condemn this electronic attack on clean sport and the rights of athletes”, – said the Executive Director of the American anti-doping Agency Travis Tygart, adding that the Olympians used the drugs only for treatment.

The Western press notes that the hacking of the WADA-occurred on the background noise surrounding the removal of Russian athletes from participating in the Olympic and Paralympic games. “Hand of the Kremlin” hacking into databases WADA sounds in the press as a fact. “The hacker group known as Fancy Bear, or APT28 works for military intelligence, the GRU… They also took an active part in the propaganda operations,” writes the American The Washington Post, stating that “the disclosed information mainly includes… situations in which WADA allows you to take certain banned substances if they are used to treat medical problems.”

“There’s more smoke than fire, as these athletes had used the drugs for which they had medical clearance, writes Yahoo Sports. But don’t expect Fancy Bear will go into hibernation. And don’t expect the debate over the use of drugs by Olympians will disappear within four years… that means there is at least one group which is able to find health information and to initiate the leak. Privacy is a major issue that the authorities need to be urgently addressed, otherwise it will lead to confusion of any Olympian, which for obvious reasons is afraid of publicity of personal health information”.

Read the material: “there is Nothing to be ashamed of”: Williams, Delle don and Bails admitted doping

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