Russian Data Hack Reveals Olympians Health Data

Audrey Swartz, Contributing Editor

Less than two months after the Olympics, a Russian group called the “Fancy Bears” leaked the medical records of many Olympic athletes from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) hack.


The hack comes in retaliation of many Russian athletes and the Russian track and field team. All Paralympic athletes being banned after the WADA were tipped off, and investigated the widespread doping in the Sochi Olympics, making an example of Russia. According to BBC, the Russian Government has denied any involvement in the hack. Many see this hack as a growing distrust in the WADA and the future of clean sports.


The hackers first released the information of twenty five athletes, ten of which were from the U.S. and the most famous being Venus and Serena Williams, and 2016 star Simone Biles. They were targeted because they take banned medications, but for excused medical reasons. This is called a therapeutic use exemption (TUE). The hackers tried to make the point that this should be considered cheating, because the athletes were still taking banned substances. For instance, Simone Biles was accused of using Ritalin. Biles quickly turned to twitter to explain that she had been taking Ritalin since she was a child for her ADHD, she had done all the paperwork, and was cleared by the WADA. She insisted she had broken no rules. The Williams sisters have not released a comment.


On September thirteenth, the data of more Olympians were released from the previous hack. NBC reported that the ten others implicated all medaled in the games and also had TUEs. The data of more Olympians was released on the nineteenth including members of Canada’s women’s soccer team and twenty other athletes. One victim of the hack, hockey player Samantha Quek, said she was  “embarrassed and violated” when her medical records were released by the hackers for all to see. She had TUE that allowed her to use an inhaler for her asthma. The WADA says that all the athletes implicated had “done everything right in adhering to the global rules for obtaining permission to use a needed medication.”


Roger Pielke Jr. a professor of sports governance programs says that the goal of the hackers was to create a scandal around Americans and athletes from other countries. He believes they have failed because of the responses of the victims and how “unremarkable” the TUEs really are.” The Russian Kremlin released a statement saying “that hacking and hackers are outlawed in Russia,” and deny involvement.