Russian hackers who accessed the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) database have published further medical files relating to athletes who competed at the Rio Olympic Games, including British cyclists Sir Bradley Wigggins and Chris Froome. The documents include details of normally banned drugs that they have been allowed to use under a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).
The latest release of records follows the disclosure earlier this week of ones relating to American tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams and the gymnast, Simone Biles.
While there is no evidence of any of the 29 athletes whose records have been disclosed having doped, the group responsible for publishing the data, who go by the name Fancy Bears, insist that TUEs are “licenses for doping.”
According to The Guardian, Wiggins received TUEs for four separate substances on several occasions between 2008 and 2013. Those include the asthma drugs salbutamol, formeterol and budesonide, plus triamcinolone acetonide, used to treat the 36-year-old’s pollen allergy.
The TUEs cover the period from 2008 to 2013. At the start of that period, Wiggins raced for Team High Road, although his main focus was on the track where he won gold in the individual and team pursuits at the Beijing Olympics.
He joined Garmin-Slipstream in 2009, finishing fourth in the Tour de France (he was later elevated to third following Lance Armstrong’s ban), moving to Team Sky the following year, with whom he won the 2012 Tour de France.
Races where he was granted a TUE are said to include the 2011 Tour de France, where Wiggins crashed out on Stage 7, and the 2013 Giro d’Italia, which he abandoned halfway through due to a chest infection and knee injury.
Froome, meanwhile, was granted a TUE in April 2014 to use the drug prednisolone, used for various inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, at the Tour de Romandie, something that was reported on the same year by French newspaper Le Journal Du Dimanche.
The documents released by Fancy Bears however also reveal that Froome had been given permission to use the same substance at the previous year’s Critérium du Dauphiné, shortly before he won the Tour de France with Team Sky.
At Rio last month, Wiggins became Great Britain's most decorated Olympian ever in terms of total medals won as he secured his fifth career gold, riding in the team pursuit. Froome won bronze in the time trial, just as he had done at London 2012 where Wiggins took gold.
WADA believes that the cyber attack is designed to undermine the global anti-doping system and that it has “no doubt” that it also serves as retaliation for Russia’s track and field team and a number of other athletes being excluded from the Rio Olympics. There is a blanket ban on Russian athletes at the Paralympics.
The agency has appealed to the Russian authorities for help in stopping the publication of information, although the Kremlin strongly denies any involvement.
According to WADA, the data is being released in batches and is restricted to athletes who competed in the Rio Olympic Games, with its database accessed via an International Olympic Committee-created account.
WADA director general Olivier Niggli said the organisation “is very mindful that this criminal attack, which to date has recklessly exposed personal data of 29 athletes, will be very distressing for the athletes that have been targeted; and, cause apprehension for all athletes that were involved in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.”
He continued: “To those athletes that have been impacted, we regret that criminals have attempted to smear your reputations in this way; and, assure you that we are receiving intelligence and advice from the highest level law enforcement and IT security agencies that we are putting into action.
“Given this intelligence and advice, WADA has no doubt that these ongoing attacks are being carried out in retaliation against the agency, and the global anti-doping system, because of our independent Pound and McLaren investigations that exposed state-sponsored doping in Russia.
“We condemn this criminal activity and have asked the Russian Government to do everything in their power to make it stop.
“Continued cyber-attacks emanating from Russia seriously undermine the work that is being carried out to rebuild a compliant anti-doping program in Russia," he concluded.
The continued disclosures have reignited the debate over the use of TUEs by athletes and whether there should be more transparency around the process, including making details publicly available as a matter of course.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.