Russian Hackers Leak Medical Information of Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Simone Biles

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Russian computer hackers penetrated the World Anti-Doping Agency’s athlete database and publicly revealed private medical information about three of the United States’ most famous athletes.

The hackers published documents this week showing that Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Simone Biles received medical exemptions to use banned drugs.

The antidoping agency confirmed the authenticity of the documents in a statement Tuesday, attributing the hack to a Russian cyberespionage group called Tsar Team, also known as Fancy Bear.

“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,” Olivier Niggli, WADA’s director general, said Tuesday.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency said the athletes in question had sought the requisite approvals to take typically prohibited substances, and that none of the drug positives constituted a violation.

Athletes with particular medical conditions may apply for special permission to take banned substances; the list of such prohibited drugs is updated each year.

In 2016, meldonium — a heart medication that improves blood flow — was added to that list, resulting in drug violations for several Russian athletes, including the tennis star Maria Sharapova. (Ms. Sharapova was barred from competition for two years. She appealed that decision at an arbitration hearing in New York this month, and awaits a verdict in October.)

The records published this week show that at the Rio Games, Ms. Biles — the 19-year-old gymnast who took home four gold medals — tested positive for a substance that is on the banned list.

The International Gymnastics Federation declined to comment Tuesday.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Rebecca R. Ruiz