MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) records leaked by hackers raised a lot of questions with healthy athletes seemingly taking banned substances, TASS news agency reported.
“It raises a lot of questions,” Putin said. “It seems as if healthy athletes are taking drugs legally that are prohibited for others, and people who are clearly suffering from serious illnesses, major disabilities, are suspected of taking some kind of substances and banned from the Paralympic Games.”
“What they did, can not fail to be interesting to the international community, the sporting community first of all,” Putin said.
His comments came just hours before hackers released a third batch of drugs test data involving 11 more athletes.
As recently as Wednesday WADA had confirmed athlete data had been leaked by a Russian cyber espionage group with hackers releasing information on 25 athletes from the United States, Germany, Britain, Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland, Romania, and Russia.
The hacking group, known as APT28 and Fancy Bear by U.S. cyber-security researchers, was also blamed by WADA on Tuesday for posting medical data about U.S. athletes Simone Biles, Elena Delle Donne, and Serena and Venus Williams.
The group on Friday posted further doping test results of athletes from Britain, Spain, Australia, Germany and Denmark.
Among them were several Rio Games champions including Britain’s cycling gold medalist Laura Trott and boxing champion Nicola Adams as well as Australian rowers Kimberly Brennan, who won gold, and silver medalist Alexander Belonogoff.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) called the release of the data an “outrageous” breach of confidentiality and offered to assist WADA in communicating with Russian authorities over the matter.
“This is an unacceptable and outrageous breach of medical confidentiality that attempts to smear innocent athletes who have not committed any doping offence,” IOC President Thomas Bach said on Friday.
“In some cases, it is also a breach of confidentiality for athletes whose cases have not yet been finalised.”
WADA considers the attacks are being carried out as retaliation for the agency’s investigations that exposed state-sponsored doping in Russia and led to virtually the entire track and field team being banned from last month’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Russia was also banned from sending a team to the Paralympic Games.
“The IOC fully support the actions taken by WADA to deal with the leak, including the measures that are being taken to bring this activity to an end with the help of IT experts and in requesting assistance from the Russian authorities,” Bach said in his statement.
“I have informed the WADA President, Sir Craig Reedie, that the IOC will also assist WADA in any way required, including communicating with the Russian authorities, to underline the seriousness of the issue and request all possible assistance to stop the hackers.”
WADA has said it believes the hackers gained access to its anti-doping administration and management system (ADAMS) via an IOC-created account for the Rio Games.
According to WADA, the account includes confidential medical data such as Therapeutic Use Exemptions, which are issued by sports federations and national anti-doping organizations to allow athletes to take certain substances.
The agency’s independent McLaren report, released in July, said that Russians had swapped positive doping samples for clean ones during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, with the support of the Russian secret service.
Writing by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Toby Davis