Latest Fancy Bears victim Nadal: Leaks are not news, just inflammatory
Rafael Nadal, the Spanish tennis star, has claimed that the latest leak of confidential athletes’ medical information from the databases of the World Anti-Doping Agency by cyber hacking group Fancy Bears is “not news, it's just inflammatory.”
Nadal was reacting to the news that his data, including a record of his therapeutic use exemptions that have allowed him to take normally banned substances, had been leaked in the fourth such cyber attack by Fancy Bears, along with those of 26 other athletes including Mo Farah, Great Britain’s double gold medallist from the Rio 2016 Olympics.
In both cases, the records show that the athletes have used TUEs in the past, but Nadal, a 14-times Grand Slam winner, said: “When you ask permission to take something for therapeutic reasons and they give it to you, you're not taking anything prohibited.
“It's not news, it's just inflammatory.”
Nadal said that he would support the publication of all athletes’ medical records to put a stop to the problem. He said: “It would be much more beneficial for sportsmen and women, spectators and media that every time a drug test is taken the news is made public and two weeks later there are the results.
“This would end the problem. Sport has to take a step forward and be totally transparent. I have been saying this for years.”
Farah agreed, with his spokesperson saying: “As Mo has previously stated, he has got nothing to hide and doesn't have a problem with this or any of his [medical] information being released - as evidenced by the fact that he voluntarily shared his blood data with the Sunday Times last year.
“Mo’s medical care is overseen at all times by British Athletics and over the course of his long career he has only ever had two TUEs.”
The leaks by the Russia-based Fancy Bears purport to show that top athletes in the west, aided and abetted by WADA, are abusing the TUE system to gain access to banned substances.
The issue has become highly politicised, with WADA itself claiming in response to the second data leak: “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 that exposed state-sponsored doping in Russia.”
But Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, said that while “we don't approve of the hackers' action, it has helped reveal that people, who took part in the Olympics and looked absolutely healthy, had taken banned medicines giving them an edge in competition.”
Putin lashed out once again at a decision to bar the entire Russian team from the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, calling it “dishonest, hypocritical and cowardly.”