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Laura Trott latest Team GB cyclist targeted by WADA data hackers

WADA taking advice from top cyber security experts

Laura Trott is among the latest batch of British athletes to have had details of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) leaked by Russian hackers, reports The Guardian. The four-time Olympic gold medallist, who has spoken frequently about her asthma, required a TUE for salmeterol and salbutamol between 2009 and 2013.

Earlier in the week, Chris Froome and Sir Bradley Wiggins were among those to have had medical files held by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) published on the Fancy Bears website.

Questions have been raised about the organisation’s ability to secure medical data stored on its Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS).

In a statement, WADA said that following Fancy Bears’ initial data releases, more were expected. “With this in mind, stakeholders should know that WADA is being consulted and taking action based on intelligence and advice from the very highest levels of international law enforcement; along with, top cyber security experts to ensure that the broader ADAMS remains secure.”

The latest leak targets 11 athletes: three from Australia, one from Denmark, two from Germany, one from Spain and four from the United Kingdom. The other three British athletes were boxer Nicola Adams, rower Olivia Carnegie-Brown and swimmer Siobhan-Marie O’Connor.

UK Anti-Doping’s chief executive Nicole Sapstead said:

“We absolutely condemn the latest release of personal information pertaining to members of Team GB. It is causing unnecessary and unwarranted worry for the athletes affected. We continue to treat this matter with the utmost concern and seriousness, and we are in close contact with WADA. We have also been in contact with the four most recently affected athletes this evening and have offered our support.

“We spent yesterday contacting Team GB athletes about the possibility of their TUE data being released and we will continue to keep our athletes and stakeholders apprised as more information becomes available.

“It is incomprehensible that someone would use athletes’ personal information to try to undermine the global anti-doping system. These athletes have obtained TUEs through a robust and independent system. The use of TUEs is not a doping offence, and all of these athletes have legitimately applied for, and been granted, medical support within the anti-doping rules.”

Russian president, Vladimir Putin, while denying that the Russian state had anything to do with the hack, has said that the leaked documents “cannot fail to be interesting” to the international community. “It raises a lot of questions. It seems as if healthy athletes are taking drugs legally that are prohibited for others, and people who are clearly suffering from serious illnesses, major disabilities, are suspected of taking some kind of substances and banned from the Paralympic Games.”

In the wake of media coverage of the leaks, WADA said it was keen to clarify misinformation related to the purpose of TUEs.

“In short, athletes may have illnesses or conditions that require a particular substance or method that appears on WADA’s List of Prohibited Substances and Methods (List). In such instances, they may be granted a TUE, which gives them permission to take a substance or use a method. TUEs are only granted by [International Sports Federations], [National Anti-Doping Organizations] and Major Event Organizers (MEOs) following a robust review process that is defined in the International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemptions (ISTUE); and, evaluation by three physicians specialized in sports medicine and/or other relevant specialties.”

Born a month premature with a collapsed lung, Trott suffered protracted chest infections from an early age and was diagnosed with asthma at the age of six. Salmeterol and salbutamol are both used to relieve the symptoms.

Trott has spoken about asthma frequently, most recently in August for a Daily Express article entitled ‘Asthma made me a winner’.

There are more than five million asthma sufferers in the UK and it is particularly common in elite sport. A 2014 study by John Dickinson, head of the respiratory clinic at the University of Kent, found that 70 per cent of the British swimming squad were sufferers, as were a third of Team Sky cyclists.

The most commonly seen form is not the allergy-induced one frequently seen among children but exercise induced asthma (EIA), which is brought about by rapid breathing through exertion.

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