SII Focus 19th September 2016

Fancy Bears hack now involves 66 athletes from 16 countries

A fourth release of confidential athlete data from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) involves 26 athletes from ten countries and 12 sports. The new release is different from earlier releases in that it doesn’t contain any adverse analytical findings (AAFs), just therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs), which are intended to allow athletes to use substances that feature on WADA’s Prohibited List in the case of medical emergency.

The countries affected now read as follows:

• USA – 18 athletes;
• UK – 17 athletes;
• Germany – seven athletes;
• Canada – four athletes;
• Denmark – four athletes;
• Australia – three athletes;
• Argentina – two athletes;
• France – two athletes;
• Spain – two athletes;
• Belgium – one athlete;
• Burundi – one athlete;
• Czech Republic – one athlete;
• Hungary – one athlete;
• Poland – one athlete;
• Romania – one athlete;
• Russia – one athlete;

As the new release just features TUEs, which are permitted under WADA guidelines, there is no suggestion that any of the athletes, federations or NADOs involved have broken any rules. However, as with previous releases, the apparent widespread use of TUEs in elite support will raise questions about whether they are a medical necessity, or whether TUEs are being fabricated in order to benefit from perceived marginal performance gains. The speed with elite athletes appear to have been granted TUEs – sometimes in a matter of weeks – has also raised questions amongst other athletes as to why their TUEs have taken years to process.

The Sports Integrity Initiative broke the news about the first leak here. You can read about the second leak here and the third here. As before, The Sports Integrity Initiative takes the view that it is important to use any publicly available evidence about the TUEs concerned in order to put the information released into context, as well as any responses from the athletes, sports or national anti-doping organisations affected by this privacy breach.

Germany’s National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has already confirmed that a criminal investigation is underway. Meanwhile, it appears that attempts to access ADAMS data are ongoing. ‘In recent days, fake emails arrived at ADAMS users’ email addresses, giving the impression that they have been sent by WADA’, read a warning from the Hungarian Anti-Doping Group (HUNADO). ’The letter asked the recipient to click on a link given or confirm entry information (username, password, email address)…WADA did not send, and never send, emails of this nature’.

This presents a further serious concern for WADA, which is already facing investigation over its apparent failure to protect athlete data in Canada, where its headquarters are based. As the latest leak also involves athletes from Canada, that inquiry is set to gather pace.

“We have reached out to WADA for more information and are awaiting a response”, a spokesperson for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner in Canada previously told The Sports Integrity Initiative. “We have not received any formal complaints about this incident to date. Given we have not had an opportunity to formally investigate all the facts, I am not in a position at this time to comment on the organisation’s computer systems, what safeguards may have been in place and what, if any, vulnerabilities might have contributed to the incident. Under Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act [PIPEDA], which applies to WADA, the sensitivity of information is a specific factor to consider in looking at the adequacy of an organisation’s safeguards.”

Lucas Rey (Argentina)

Rey won a gold medal in the men’s field hockey at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Documents released reveal that for one month in 2014, he held TUEs for triamcinolone and dexamethasone. Triamcinolone is a corticosteroid and dexamethasone is a steroidal medication, both of which are used to treat inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.

Facundo Callioni (Argentina)

Callioni played alongside Rey in the men’s field hockey team that won gold at the Rio Olympics. Documents reveal that he held a one-off TUE for betamethasone in March 2010. The steroid was admitted by route of an epidural, which is sometimes used to combat severe back pain.

Argentina’s Hockey Confederation (CAH) said that it has been in contact with WADA and the Fédération Internationale de Hockey (FIH) to clarify the situation regarding both players. ‘In 2010 and 2014, Facundo Callioni and Lucas Rey – respecting the procedures established by WADA – requested through a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) form, authorisation to receive one-time therapeutic treatment through the use use of prohibited substances, with the conformity of the Medical Commission of the FIH’, read a statement. ‘Neither case refers to a positive doping control. In contrast, these players followed the correct procedure under the WADA process’.

Loïck Luypaert (Belgium)

Luypaert won a silver medal in the men’s field hockey at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Documents reveal that in 2010, the Fédération Interntaionale de Hockey (FIH) granted him a two-year TUE for formoterol (symbicort), a drug often used to combat asthma.

‘The document states that WADA permitted use of Symbicort (formoterol) from November 2010 to November 2012’, read a statement from Luypaert and his management team. ‘That drug was prescribed to him by a doctor for asthma. Incidentally, since 2012, Loïck used Inuvair, a drug that is not on the list of banned substances. We want to make it clear that the leak actually proves that Loïck plays by the rules. We have asked WADA to act quickly on this, because the reputation of an athlete that is clean may be damaged here.’

Francine Niyonsaba (Burundi)

Niyonsaba won silver in the 800m at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Documents reveal that she holds a valid TUE for tibolone, a synthetic hormone designed to combat oestrogen deficiency in post menopausal women. Publishing this information represents a egregious privacy breach against Niyonsaba.

Christine Sinclair (Canada)

Sinclair was part of the women’s football team that took a bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Documents reveal she held a ten month TUE for asthma drug salbutamol, expiring in 2009.

Melissa Tancredi (Canada)

Tancredi was part of the women’s football team that took a bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Documents reveal she held two TUEs for salbutamol, the last of which expired in 2009.

Rhian Wilkinson (Canada)

Wilkinson was part of the women’s football team that took a bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Documents reveal she held TUEs for salbutamol and fluticasone propionate (flovent), the last of which expired in 2009. Both drugs are used in the management of asthma.

Sophie Schmidt (Canada)

Schmidt was part of the women’s football team that took a bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Documents reveal she held a TUE for salbutamol which expired in 2009.

Casper Mortensen (Denmark)

Mortensen was a member of the handball team that won a gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Documents reveal he has held a valid TUE for terbutaline since 2013, which was extended to cover the Rio 2016 Olympics. Terbutaline is used in inhalers used to manage asthma.

Niklas Larsen (Denmark)

Larsen was part of the team that won a bronze medal in the men’s team pursuit in the Rio 2016 velodrome. Documents reveal an existing TUE for terbutaline was extended to cover the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Dimitri Bascou (France)

Bascou won a bronze medal in the 110m hurdles at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Documents show he held a TUE for salbutamol and ‘associated glucocorticoids’ from 2009 to 2013. Both drugs can be used in the treatment of asthma.

Gauthier Grumier (France)

Grumier won gold in the men’s team épée (fencing) at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Documents reveal he held a short-term TUE for betamethasone and methylprednisolone in 2009. Both drugs can be used to manage inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis.

Alexandra Danson (UK)

Danson was a member of the team that won gold in field hockey at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Documents reveal she held TUEs for salbutamol, salmeterol (Serevent), fluticasone propionate, methylprednisolone and dexamethasone, all of which have expired.

‘Alex Danson was prescribed two inhalers (Ventolin and Seretide) in January 2008 for the prevention and treatment of exercise-induced asthma, following appropriate investigations to confirm the diagnosis’, read an England Hockey statement. ‘She received an injection of methyl-prednisolone (an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid) into her ankle in September 2008, following a well-documented injury to her ankle joint. She also was prescribed an oral dose of Dexamethasone in September 2014, (an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid) as an emergency in an Argentinian hospital following a concussive head injury, to help reduce swelling around the brain.’

Callum Skinner (UK)

Skinner won a gold in the men’s team sprint and a silver in the men’s sprint at the Rio 2016 velodrome. Documents reveal a TUE for a five-day course of prednisolone in 2014, and a two-day course of salbutamol in January 2016.

Crista Cullen (UK)

Cullen was a member of the Great Britain team which won field hockey gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Documents reveal she held TUEs for salbutamol, salmeterol (Serevent) and fluticasone propionate (Serevent), all of which expired in 2010.

‘Crista Cullen was prescribed two inhalers (Ventolin and Seretide) in January 2008 for the prevention and treatment of exercise-induced asthma, following appropriate investigations to confirm the diagnosis’, read an England Hockey statement.

Helen Glover (UK)

Glover won gold in the women’s coxless pair at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Documents reveal she held a TUE for salbutamol which expired in 2013.

Justin Rose (UK)

Rose won a gold on the Rio 2016 golf course. Documents reveal he held a TUE for prednisolone shortly before the Rio 2016 Olympics. Prednisolone can be used to manage inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, however it is understood that Rose used it to combat a back injury during May and June.

Mo Farah (UK)

Farah won gold at the 5,000 and 10,000m at the Rio 2016 Olympics, repeating the golds he won at the London 2012 Olympics Documents show he held a backdated, one-off TUE for triamcinolone in 2008, which was approved by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Triamcinolone is a long-acting corticosteroid used for the treatment of skin conditions, arthritis and allergies. He also held a backdated TUE for intravenous saline solution, morphine sulphate and vicodin, which are understood to have been administered to him after he collapsed in 2014.

Peter Reed (UK)

Reed won gold in the men’s coxed eight at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Documents reveal he obtained a retroactive TUE for a seven-day course of prednisolone in 2014.

Samantha Quek (UK)

Quek was part of the field hockey team that won gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Documents reveal she held a TUE for salbutamol, which expired in 2010. ‘Sam Quek was prescribed a Ventolin inhaler in February 2008 for the treatment of mild exercise-induced asthma, following appropriate investigations to confirm the diagnosis’, read an England Hockey statement.

A statement from Quek was critical of the impact the hack of TUEs stored on ADAMS could have on future athletes that require a TUE. ‘My real worry going forward is in future Olympic cycles there will be a hockey girl like me, chasing her Olympic Dream and pushing her body to its limit in that plight’, writes Quek. ‘She will become out of breath due to asthma, and will need an inhaler; not to get an unfair sporting advantage, but to breathe. To make sure she does not die. Yet she will think twice about using one, or perhaps use it and feel guilty about doing so, or worst still, refuse to use it completely.’

Laszlo Cseh (Hungary)

Cseh won a silver in the men’s 100m butterfly in the Rio 2016 pool. Documents reveal he held a TUE for asthma drug formoterol, which expired in October 2015.

Rafael Nadal (Spain)

Nadal won gold in the men’s doubles at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Documents reveal he held a one-time retroactive TUE for betamethasone in 2009. It is understood that this was to combat a knee injury. Another TUE from 2012 relates to a very short-term course of corticotrophins (Tetracosactide), a diagnostic drug used to assess adrenal insufficiency.

As well as its legitimate medical applications, it has been alleged that tetracosactide has been used as a performance-enhancing drug by professional cyclists. It is understood to increase the secretion of glucocorticoids by adrenal glands. Nadal was injured at the time of the 2012 TUE.

Ariana Washington (US)

Washington was a member of the women’s 4x100m team that won gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Documents reveal she was granted a short-term TUE for methylprednisolone (Meldrol Dosepak) in 2014, which is used to treat inflammation.

Brady Ellison (US)

Ellison won a silver and a bronze in archery at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Documents reveal a retrospective TUE for one-time use of methylprednisolone in 2008.

Connor Jaeger (US)

Jaeger won a silver in the men’s 1500m freestyle in the Rio 2016 pool. Documents reveal two cases of retroactive TUEs for methylprednisolone and prednisolone in 2013.

Laurie Hernandez (US)

Hernandez won a gold and a silver in gymnastics at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Documents reveal a one-time intramuscular use of methylprednisolone shortly before the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Conclusion

As with the previous three releases, none of the TUEs reveal any wrongdoing by athletes. However, the release of the documents is bound to raise difficult questions about use of TUEs that athletes will be forced to answer. For some, this involves personal, private issues that should never have been debated in a public forum.

Interestingly, WADA has dropped its previously strong assertion that the attacks are emanating from Russia, a claim that has been denied by the Kremlin. Russia is not mentioned once in WADA’s latest statement. The nature of the latest release also suggests that the hackers may be running out of material. There was no mention of further leaks to follow, as there was previously. However, if the point is to stimulate a backlash against WADA in lawsuit form, then the hackers may have succeeded.

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