LONDON — British cyclist Chris Froome defended his right to a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) after becoming one of the latest athletes to have medical records with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) leaked by computer hackers.
Froome was one of five British athletes together with fellow cyclist Bradley Wiggins, golfer Charley Hull, rower Sam Townsend and rugby sevens player Heather Fisher to have confidential medical records made public without their consent.
There is no suggestion any of the five have broken doping rules.
On Tuesday, WADA announced that the Russian cyber-espionage group Tsar Team (APT28), also known as Fancy Bears, had broken into its Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) database. The hacking group released information gleaned from the files of sports stars including US Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams.
They said the leaks were “retaliation” for the agency’s role in uncovering “state-sponsored doping” in Russia which led the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), whose president is British middle-distance great Sebastian Coe, to ban the country’s track and field team from this year’s Olympic games in Rio.
The five British athletes were among a second batch of 25 sportsmen and women from eight countries to have their details leaked.
“’Fancy Bear’ (aka Tsar Team (APT28)) have leaked another batch of confidential athlete data from WADA’s Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS),” WADA confirmed Thursday.
TUEs exist to allow athletes with recognized medical conditions such as asthma, from which Rio gold medalist Wiggins suffers, to take drugs on WADA’s banned list for their ailment so they can compete in elite level sport.
In a statement issued Thursday, the 31-year-old Froome said: “I’ve openly discussed my TUEs with the media and have no issues with the leak which confirms my statements.
“In nine years as a professional I’ve twice required a TUE for exacerbated asthma, the last time was in 2014.”
While that debate continues, United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) Nicole Sapstead issued a statement insisting all TUEs in Britain were issued on the basis of “medical need” only.
The Kremlin Thursday said it was ready to help WADA in fighting cybercrime after the agency urged Russia to stop hacks that have leaked medical records of star athletes.
“If we’re talking about a request for help, then no question, if we receive such an appeal,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists in a conference call.
“Russia consistently backs fighting cybercrime, consistently invites all states and international organisations to cooperate in this area, and this position of Russia is well known,” Peskov said.
As WADA urged Russian help, Olivier Niggli, WADA’s director general, warned that the hacking could hamper the country’s efforts to reintegrate into the sports world.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said it was wrong to connect the issue of cybercrime with Russia’s attempts to overcome the massive doping scandal around its athletes.