Thursday 27 October 2016

Britain braced for leak of more drugs records as Wiggins and Froome defend TUE use

Ben Rumsby

Published 16/09/2016 | 02:30

Froome: In the eye of the storm. Picture: AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza
Froome: In the eye of the storm. Picture: AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza

Another 48 members of Great Britain's record-breaking Olympic team were facing their secret drug-testing records being leaked by Russian hackers last night.

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The UK's anti-doping agency revealed more than one in seven of the 366-strong delegation that took part in the Rio Games last month may have had their confidential files broken into by a group of cyber-criminals who have sent shockwaves through world sport.

Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome were among five members of the team which brought home 67 medals to have their records published following a hack of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The security breach is thought to be limited to competitors from Rio 2016 and specific data relating to the granting of medical exemptions, which allow athletes to take otherwise-banned substances.

UK Anti-Doping confirmed yesterday that 53 members of Team GB currently or previously held what is known as a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) certificate and it was in the process of notifying the remaining 48.

UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead said: "We strongly condemn actions of this nature and are appalled that five members of Team GB have had their private data published illegally online.

"Not only does it undermine our work and the protection of clean sport, but it is grossly unfair to the athletes, whose personal data has been put at risk."

The potential scale of the hack was laid bare after those behind it threatened to publish records from more athletes in the coming days in an escalation of hostilities sparked by Russia's exile from world sport.

The group of hackers calling itself Fancy Bears claimed to be "exposing the athletes who violate the principles of fair play by taking doping substances".

The leak of Wiggins and Froome's records forced the British cycling greats to defend their medical use of otherwise-banned drugs.

There was said to be "nothing new" in what was revealed about Wiggins, who became the country's most decorated Olympian in Rio, while Tour de France champion Froome declared he had "no issues" with the disclosure.

Wiggins' spokesman said: "Everyone knows Brad suffers from asthma; his medical treatment is BC (British Cycling)] and UCI (International Cycling Union) approved and, like all Team GB athletes, he follows Wada regulations to the letter. The leak is an attempt to undermine the credibility of Wada."

Froome had already spoken publicly about being granted TUEs twice, in 2013 and 2014.

He 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."

Similar sentiments were expressed by, or on behalf of, the three other British victims: golfer Charley Hull, rower Sam Townsend and rugby player Heather Fisher.

They were among 25 athletes from eight countries whose TUE records were published on Wednesday, including those of two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. That was 48 hours after Fancy Bears released confidential data on, among others, the Williams sisters and multiple Olympic champion gymnast Simone Biles.

Wada director general Olivier Niggli said: "Wada is mindful that this criminal attack will be very distressing for the athletes that have been targeted. We condemn this criminal activity and have asked the Russian government to do everything in its power to make it stop."

WADA also repeated its belief the attacks are being carried out as retaliation for the agency's investigations that exposed state-sponsored doping in Russia.

"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," said Niggli. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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