The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) secretly allows some athletes to use banned steroids, amphetamines and other performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) while publicly penalizing other athletes who use the very same drugs. This fact has always been true.
WADA’s double standard just wasn’t common knowledge outside of a relatively small group of anti-doping experts who were familiar with the minute details of the WADA Code. That has all changed thanks to a group of Russian hackers.
The “Fancy Bears Hack Team”, also called Tsar Team (APT28) by cyber-security researchers, has hacked the WADA’s Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) database. The database contains confidential medical data of all athletes who compete in sports federations that comply with the WADA. Specifically, Fancy Bears has illegally gained access to the Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) that are basically permission slips for athletes to use specific PEDs under certain conditions.
WADA Director General Olivier Niggli confirmed the data breach in a statement published on the WADA website.
“WADA deeply regrets this situation and is very conscious of the threat that it represents to athletes whose confidential information has been divulged through this criminal act,” said Niggli. “We are reaching out to stakeholders, such as the IOC, IFs and NADOs, regarding the specific athletes impacted.”
The whole world may soon know WADA’s secrets of who it allows to use steroids and PEDs and why. It turns out that WADA’s definition of a “clean athlete” isn’t what everyone expected. “Doped athletes” are obviously athletes who used banned PEDs without permission from WADA. But “clean athletes” are apparently athletes who use banned PEDs with WADA’s blessing.
Fancy Bears has already released a relatively small selection of TUEs of athletes who, in many cases, secretly use steroids and amphetamines. The hackers first released TUEs of four United States athletes: gymnast Simone Biles, basketball player Elena Delle Donne and tennis players Serena Williams and Venus Williams.
“After detailed studying of the hacked WADA databases we figured out that dozens of American athletes had tested positive,” according to a statement on the Fancy Bears website. “The Rio Olympic medalists regularly used illicit strong drugs justified by certificates of approval for therapeutic use. In other words they just got their licenses for doping. This is other evidence that WADA and IOC’s Medical and Scientific Department are corrupt and deceitful.”
Simone Biles is the top gymnast in the world. She won an amazing four gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She also tested positive for the banned stimulant methylphenidate (Ritalin) and its metabolite Ritalinic Acid on every single on of her in-competition drug tests at the Olympics. It’s okay. She had WADA’s permission to use 25 milligrams of Focalin XR (dexmethylphenidate) per day in divided dosages according to a WADA Certificate of Approval for Therapeutic Use granted on December 4, 2014 and expiring on December 6, 2018.
Elena Delle Donne is one of the top women’s basketball players in the world. She plays professionally for the Chicago Sky in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WBNA). Most recently, she won an Olympic gold medal as a member of the U.S. Women’s basketball team in Rio. She also tested positive for the banned stimulant amphetamine (Adderall) during an in-competition drug test at the Olympics. It’s okay. She had WADA’s permission to use 40 milligrams of Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) per day in divided dosages according to a WADA TUE granted on August 7, 2014 and expiring on August 7, 2018. She also had permission to use 60 milligrams of the steroid hydrocortisone per day in divided dosages according to a WADA TUE granted on August 3, 2014 and expiring on August 3, 2018.
Serena Williams is the greatest female tennis player in history. Her sister Venus Williams is also a former world number one and consistently ranked as a top female player. Both Williams played at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Venus won a silver medal in the mixed tennis doubles. Serena did not win a medal. Neither sister tested positive for a prohibited substance at the Olympics but they have received multiple TUEs over the years giving them permission to use banned steroids (corticosteroids) and/or painkillers. Specifically, Serena has been given permission to use Oxycontine (oxycodone), Dilaudid (hydromorphone), Prednisone and methylprednisone. Venus has been given permission to use formoterol, Prednisone (associated glucocorticoids) and triamcinolone.
It’s all well and good that athletes are able to receive appropriate medical treatment. But it’s no so cool that WADA has been dishonest about its promotion of “clean athletes” over “doped athletes”. The so-called clean athletes are not really athletes who are “clean” of steroids and PEDs. They are merely athletes who follow WADA’s rules. And those rules sometimes involve loopholes that allow the use of banned substances.
The Fancy Bears hack has forced WADA to address its double-standard and its painful lack of transparency. An anti-doping agency that allows some athletes to use PEDs with impugnity while severely punishing other athletes for using the very same drugs can not exist without complete transparency. The Fancy Bears hack, regardless of the hackers motives, has exposed the troubling secrecy and deceit that have become the standard operating procedure for WADA. Hopefully, it will force WADA to change.
— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) September 13, 2016
Having ADHD, and taking medicine for it is nothing to be ashamed of nothing that I'm afraid to let people know.
— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) September 13, 2016
USA Gymnastics statement regarding Simone Biles and WADA hack: pic.twitter.com/YTq2iVS7Vu
— USA Gymnastics (@USAGym) September 13, 2016
Quick update! pic.twitter.com/5tuZNIpVLC
— Elena Delle Donne (@De11eDonne) September 13, 2016