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Hackers publish WADA medical data of more Olympic medalists

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GENEVA (AP) — Three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome has “no issue” with his medical data being leaked, in an alleged criminal attack by Russian hackers on a World Anti-Doping Agencydatabase.

Froome was a headline name among 25 athletes — from Britain, the United States and Germany plus five other countries — whose confidential details of using authorized medications spilled into the public domain late Wednesday.

“I’ve openly discussed my TUEs (therapeutic use exemptions) with the media and have no issues with the leak which confirms my statements,” Froome said Thursday in a statement.

Great Britain’s most decorated Olympian, cyclist Bradley Wiggins, was also among the names in Wednesday’s leak.

WADA confirmed a second round of leaked data posted online, after medical records of gold medal-winning gymnast Simone Biles and seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams were among four American female Olympians whose data was revealed Tuesday.

All 29 cases revealed records of “Therapeutic Use Exemptions” which allow athletes to use otherwise-banned substances because of a verified medical need.

The substances identified in the leaks are typically anti-inflammatory medications and treatments for asthma and allergies.

Froome’s use of strong anti-inflammatory medication, approved by the International Cycling Union for the 2014 Tour de Romandie race in Switzerland, was widely reported two years ago.

“In nine years as a professional I’ve twice required a TUE for exacerbated asthma, the last time was in 2014,” said Froome, who won his third Tour de France title in July. He took a bronze medal in the time trial at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last month.

The latest round of leaks identified 10 athletes from the United States, five from Germany, five from Britain, and one each from Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland, Romania and Russia.

WADA said Wednesday that the Russian hacking group known as Fancy Bears had illegally gained access to its Anti-Doping Administration and Management System, or “ADAMS,” and said it included confidential medical data.

“WADA 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,” WADA director general Olivier Niggli said in a statement.

“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.”

Niggli said WADA had “no doubt that these ongoing attacks are being carried out in retaliation against the agency, and the global anti-doping system,” because of independent investigations that exposed state-sponsored doping in Russia.

Russian officials have dismissed the claims as ridiculous.

“How can you prove that the hackers are Russian?” Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said through a translator during a visit to Athens earlier Wednesday. “You blame Russia for everything. It is very ‘in’ now.”

UK Anti-Doping Chief Executive, Nicole Sapstead said that her group “strongly condemns actions of this nature and we are appalled that five members of Team GB have had their private data published illegally online,” calling it “grossly unfair” to the athletes involved.

Last month, hackers obtained a database password for Russian runner Yuliya Stepanova, a whistleblower and key witness for the WADA investigations. She and her husband, a former official with the Russian national anti-doping agency, are now living at an undisclosed location in North America.

The International Olympic Committee said after Tuesday’s WADA statement that it “strongly condemns such methods which clearly aim at tarnishing the reputation of clean athletes.”

“The IOC can confirm however that the athletes mentioned did not violate any anti-doping rules during the Olympic Games Rio 2016,” the Olympic body said.

The hackers, who have set up their own website, have not responded to messages seeking comment. Their chosen name, “Fancy Bears,” appears to be a tongue-in-cheek reference to a collection of Russia-linked hackers that security researchers have blamed for a recent spate of attacks — and which WADA holds responsible for the current breach.

The group has proclaimed its allegiance to Anonymous, the loose-knit movement of online mischief-makers, and says it hacked WADA to show the world “how Olympic medals are won.”

“We’ll keep on telling the world about doping in elite sports,” the group said Thursday. “Stay tuned for new leaks.”

MORE: Russia loses 2 more 2008 Olympic track and field medals

Michael Phelps still has ‘no desire’ to come back

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Michael Phelps says he has “no desire” to return to competitive swimming, but he is eager to stay involved with the sport and cheer on those who follow in his enormous wake.

In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press while promoting a healthy pet food campaign, Phelps said he is excited about the birth of his second child and numerous opportunities away from the pool.

It was around this time four years ago when Phelps got serious about ending his first retirement, but he now seems content with his decision to step away again after the Rio Olympics.

His wife, Nicole, is about four months pregnant. The couple already has a 16-month-old son, Boomer.

“I’ve got no desire, no desire to come back,” the 32-year-old Phelps said flatly.

Phelps has attended a handful of swimming meets since the Rio Games, where the winningest athlete in Olympic history added to his already massive career haul by claiming five gold medals plus a silver. A few months ago, he conceded to the AP that he was eager to see how he would feel about a possible comeback after this year’s world championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Turns out, it had no impact.

Phelps said watching others compete “truly didn’t kick anything off or spike any more interest in coming out of retirement again.”

He is eager to follow the development of his heir apparent, Caeleb Dressel, who emerged as the sport’s newest star by winning seven gold medals at Budapest. The 21-year-old Floridian joined Phelps and Mark Spitz as the only swimmers to accomplish that feat at a major international meet.

“I’m happy Caeleb decided to go off this year instead of last year,” Phelps joked. “I’m kind of happy to see him swimming so well when I’m not there.”

With Dressel and Katie Ledecky now leading the American team, the U.S. is expected to remain the world’s dominant swimming country heading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Even without Phelps.

“It’s time to kind of move on,” he said, “and watch other people come into their own.”

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MORE: Michael Phelps: I’d give Conor McGregor a head start

Dutch cyclist returns from horrific Rio crash to win world title

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Dutch road cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten came back from this dramatic Rio Olympic crash to win her first world title on Tuesday, taking the time trial in Bergen, Norway.

“This one is really beautiful without the crash in Rio, but this makes the story really, really special,” an emotional van Vleuten said. “Actually, I still cannot believe it. … This season I’m surprising myself what I can do. To be world champion in the time trial, I never thought I’d be able of this.”

Van Vleuten, 34, covered the 13-mile course in 28 minutes, 50.35 seconds, topping countrywoman Anna ven der Breggen by 12 seconds.

Australian Katrin Garfoot took bronze, 19.02 seconds ahead of Chloe Dygert, a U.S. Olympic silver medalist in track cycling. American Amber Neben, the defending champion, was 11th.

Full results are here.

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title.

Van Vleuten wasn’t out long. She raced at last October’s world championships, placing a career-high fifth in the time trial. She then won La Course in France, a two-day race, in July.

“To be an athlete is to have really ups and downs,” van Vleuten said Tuesday. “Sometimes really downs, but the downs make the ups even more beautiful, I think.”

Van Vleuten’s first celebratory act Tuesday was to climb past two barriers and into her mother’s arms.

“Last year my mum watched the Rio race on television, it was her birthday and she was with lots of my family, so it was a really hard day for her,” Van Vleuten said in a news conference, according to Cyclingnews.com. “My father died in 2008, and so it was really special to have her here and celebrate the good things of cycling together. We’ve dealt with bad things together in the past, so it’s important to be really happy and proud to celebrate and to also remember my father.”

The world championships continue Wednesday with the men’s time trial at 7 a.m. ET on the Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBCSports.com/live.

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MORE: World Road Cycling Championships broadcast schedule