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

Elena Fanchini, medal-winning Alpine skier, dies at 37

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Elena Fanchini, an Italian Alpine skier whose career was cut short by a tumor, has died. She was 37.

Fanchini, the 2005 World downhill silver medalist at age 19, passed away Wednesday at her home in Solato, near Brescia, the Italian Winter Sports Federation announced.

Fanchini died on the same day that fellow Italian Marta Bassino won the super-G at the world championships in Meribel, France; and two days after Federica Brignone — another former teammate — claimed gold in the combined.

Sofia Goggia, who is the favorite for Saturday’s downhill, dedicated her World Cup win in Cortina d’Ampezzo last month to Fanchini.

Fanchini last raced in December 2017. She was cleared to return to train nearly a year later but never made it fully back, and her condition grew worse in recent months.

Fanchini won her world downhill silver medal in Italy in 2005, exactly one month after her World Cup debut, an astonishing breakout.

Ten months later, she won a World Cup downhill in Canada with “Ciao Mamma” scribbled on face tape to guard against 1-degree temperatures. She was 20. Nobody younger than 21 has won a World Cup downhill since. Her second and final World Cup win, also a downhill, came more than nine years later.

In between her two World Cup wins, Fanchini raced at three Olympics with a best finish of 12th in the downhill in 2014. She missed the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics because of her condition.

Fanchini’s younger sisters Nadia and Sabrina were also World Cup racers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

USA Boxing to skip world championships

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USA Boxing will not send boxers to this year’s men’s and women’s world championships, citing “the ongoing failures” of the IBA, the sport’s international governing body, that put boxing’s place on the Olympic program at risk.

The Washington Post first reported the decision.

In a letter to its members, USA Boxing Executive Director Mike McAtee listed many factors that led to the decision, including IBA governance issues, financial irregularities and transparency and that Russian and Belarusian boxers are allowed to compete with their flags.

IBA lifted its ban on Russian and Belarusian boxers in October and said it would allow their flags and anthems to return, too.

The IOC has not shifted from its recommendation to international sports federations last February that Russian and Belarusian athletes be barred, though the IOC and Olympic sports officials have been exploring whether those athletes could return without national symbols.

USA Boxing said that Russian boxers have competed at an IBA event in Morocco this month with their flags and are expected to compete at this year’s world championships under their flags.

“While sport is intended to be politically neutral, many boxers, coaches and other representatives of the Ukrainian boxing community were killed as a result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, including coach Mykhaylo Korenovsky who was killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment block in January 2023,” according to the USA Boxing letter. “Ukraine’s sports infrastructure, including numerous boxing gyms, has been devastated by Russian aggression.”

McAtee added later that USA Boxing would still not send athletes to worlds even if Russians and Belarusians were competing as neutrals and without their flags.

“USA Boxing’s decision is based on the ‘totality of all of the factors,'” he said in an emailed response. “Third party oversite and fairness in the field of play is the most important factor.”

A message has been sent to the IBA seeking comment on USA Boxing’s decision.

The women’s world championships are in March in India. The men’s world championships are in May in Uzbekistan. They do not count toward 2024 Olympic qualifying.

In December, the IOC said recent IBA decisions could lead to “the cancellation of boxing” for the 2024 Paris Games.

Some of the already reported governance issues led to the IOC stripping IBA — then known as AIBA — of its Olympic recognition in 2019. AIBA had suspended all 36 referees and judges used at the 2016 Rio Olympics pending an investigation into a possible judging scandal, one that found that some medal bouts were fixed by “complicit and compliant” referees and judges.

The IOC ran the Tokyo Olympic boxing competition.

Boxing was not included on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games announced in December 2021, though it could still be added. The IBA must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” IOC President Thomas Bach said then.

This past June, the IOC said IBA would not run qualifying competitions for the 2024 Paris Games.

In September, the IOC said it was “extremely concerned” about the Olympic future of boxing after an IBA extraordinary congress overwhelmingly backed Russian Umar Kremlev to remain as its president rather than hold an election.

Kremlev was re-elected in May after an opponent, Boris van der Vorst of the Netherlands, was barred from running against him. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in June that van der Vorst should have been eligible to run against Kremlev, but the IBA group still decided not to hold a new election.

Last May, Rashida Ellis became the first U.S. woman to win a world boxing title at an Olympic weight since Claressa Shields in 2016, taking the 60kg lightweight crown in Istanbul. In Tokyo, Ellis lost 3-0 in her opening bout in her Olympic debut.

At the last men’s worlds in 2021, Robby Gonzales and Jahmal Harvey became the first U.S. men to win an Olympic or world title since 2007, ending the longest American men’s drought since World War II.

The Associated Press and NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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