Sour attackers publish health data on Olympic athletes

rio 2016 olympics logo rowing

Olympic rings are pictured during training sessions at Lagoa Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

Credit: REUTERS/Murad Sezer

There is really no denying it. The Russians are still upset about the decision to ban their athletes from performing in the Olympics this year in Rio. The part that still causes me to scratch my head is that they cheated and they got caught. Full stop. There really isn’t a discussion to be had beyond that. They were caught with their hand in the medical cupboard.

The world anti-doping agency or WADA had their systems compromised and health data pertaining to athletes who participated in this years games was published to a website controlled by an apparent Russian based attack group.

From Reuters:

WADA has said it believes the hackers, named as APT28 and Fancy Bears, gained access to its anti-doping administration and management system (ADAMS) via an IOC-created account for the Rio Games.

Documents relating to Farah, and published on the website, showed that the distance runner had no active Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) at the time of the Olympics.

This is a childish and immature attempt to make other athletes look bad. I can hear a small toddler yelling “you’re a stupid head and I don’t like you” when I read about a breach of this sort. There is really nothing to be gained in this type of data leak.

This did manage to illustrate the need for a stricter regemin around the creation and management of user accounts for WADA. The account that was apparently leveraged by the attackers was created by the IOC. This begs the question as to how did they get the account and what other data and access might have been affected.

The attackers managed to accomplish less than zero by leaking this sort of data. The WADA referred to this as a “criminal attack” and they’re not wrong. I get it when hacktivists go after all sort of concerns for the greater good. I don’t condone it but, I understand the motivations. In this case it is little more than puerile crap.

Were they hoping that by exposing this information that they would somehow vindicate the Russian athletes that were barred from the games? If so, this attempt fell flat.

Now, if they had uncovered some sort of malfeasance, financial double dealing and so forth they might have had something. However, they failed to do so. Rather, they violated the privacy of some competitors that were not pumped full of horse tranquilizers or whatever is in vogue these days.

There is prestige on the line for countries that put stock in the games. They have a chance to, without the need for ammunition, demonstrate to the world their prominence. The games were originally intended for such a thing but, along the way some countries lost their moral compass. I have little doubt that other countries will cut corners where they can to give their chances in the medal hunt an edge. The Russians were simply caught red handed.

This was not the first time that the Fancy Bears had exposed athlete data either.

Fancy Bear has previously posted data for U.S. athletes Simone Biles, Elena Delle Donne, and Serena and Venus Williams as well as Tour de France-winning British cyclists Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.

What did they hope to gain by publishing this data?

I would like to think that this doping fiasco will serve as a lesson for countries to concentrate on building athletes more so than designing them. I also sincerely hope that WADA gets some resources invested in dealing with their account management issue.

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