back to article Sports doping agency WADA says hackers lifted Olympic athletes' medical records

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has confirmed that its Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) database has been accessed by a “Russian cyber espionage group operator by the name of Tsar Team (APT28), also known as Fancy Bear.” The breach was made possible by spear phishing of an “International Olympic …

TUE secrets?

Not sure I understand why if an exemption has approval from the official body and is therefore in effect legal that it should remain secret. Closed systems in this area seem to lead to a huge level of distrust which athletics as well as many other sports doesn't need in this day and age.

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Re: TUE secrets?

@TUE - "Not sure I understand why an [approved] exemption ... should remain secret.

Because medication can be deeply personal - imagine being Caster Semenya - having your very identity become the subject of international news for years, people accusing you of cheating for being simply you and then being forced to take medication to compete.

Regardless of how you think of sport, Semenya never asked to be a a flag bearer of gender issues or be the subject of reasoning like in this comment. Her medication is private.

Or perhaps women using contraceptive medication shouldn't have to tell the world (some countries might not be impressed)

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Re: TUE secrets?

See this: http://www.km.ru/joke_day/781353

Caption on the left: MUESLI

Caption on the right: Steroids.

Frankly, the fact that quite a lot of top level USA athletes have successfully applied for "medical exemption" for performance enhancing chemicals should be public as well as all applicants and what chemical were they exempted from.

The "medical" (quotes intended) reason for the exemption may remain private, but the fact that an athlete is openly taking doping, what doping is being taken and the fact that this has been allowed should not be hidden.

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Re: TUE secrets?

Because medication can be deeply personal - imagine being Caster Semenya - having your very identity become the subject of international news for years

Welcome to competition sports. If you enter, you know what will happen.

That being said, Caster is a swell guy.

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Re: TUE secrets?

@Voland's right hand - "Frankly, the fact that quite a lot of top level USA athletes have successfully applied for "medical exemption" for performance enhancing chemicals should be public as well as all applicants and what chemical were they exempted from."

Seeing as you're making a medical assessment about the performance enhancing effects of these chemicals on the athletes I assume you're suitably qualified in medicine?

The *other* reason for keeping these records confidential is the same as the 'baseline chemical levels' and testing result scores, used to determine whether an athlete is doping or just normally has higher levels of certain chemicals and is within tolerances. It is very specific to each athlete, isn't something that the public can understand, and worse, to the *untrained* eye can seem to be evidence of cheating.

For (simple) instance, I take steroids. Doping right? When I say that these are in an inhaler to prevent asthma, is it still cheating? You could argue that this is performance enhancing for me, but I would argue (and it's the position most sports take) that this isn't cheating or unfair, it just prevents me from having my performance impaired. If I was an athlete and you saw the chemical on this list, you might assume I was getting away with something. The individual circumstances matter and even for a professional athlete are private.

WADA decided that qualified people are better at assessing the results than me. But obviously not you with your many qualifications in biochemistry and medicine.

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Re: TUE secrets?

For (simple) instance, I take steroids. Doping right? When I say that these are in an inhaler to prevent asthma, is it still cheating

It may be cheating or maybe not. It should be a matter of the public record that you have been allowed to take specific medication which is dual use (as a medicine and as a performance substance) for a specific medical condition if you are a competitive athlete. The reason for this are the weaknesses in the tests in use.

To be clear - I am not a medical professional. I am a (now ex - gone IT) professional from the area which is used to "prove" all those "allegations" which is Chemistry (I also have most credits towards a second MSc in Mol Biol too so I know how said chemicals work at a molecular level as well).

So coming from a purely professional standpoint, using the standard sampling methodology for an athlete as used today which is 1-2 samples at competition and an occasional random test you _CANNOT_ reliably distinguish between medical and performance enhancement use. The standard tech is chromatography + gas/mass for most steroids + a battery of additional tests including antibodies for various proteins like growth hormones, etc. None of these provides correct quantitative results using a one-off sample. They are qualitative in nature - is the substance present or not.

In order to get a quantitative measurement you need to calibrate them "metabolic rate" tests - you are given a dose of substance X under controlled conditions and the results of the test are calibrated for you based on what you "pee". It also requires much more regular testing.

IMHO, this is extremely intrusive so having the exception LISTED and being asked to move to this regimen only if side observations by _OTHER_ independent medical professionals (other athletes have doctors too you know) is actually the lesser evil.

In any case - WADA is doing none of that, the system as it stands is rigged.

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Re: TUE secrets?

@Voland's right hand - Fair comment, have an upvote.

You make a good point but I don't agree that it should be *public* knowledge but the knowledge of a properly independent organisation, with proper controls. WADA *should* be that body, if they haven't done their job properly then either reform or replace. I was unfair you do have relevant knowledge, the general public (myself included) don't. Some athletes earlier this year were taking advantage of this by publishing their test results, I suspect cynically knowing that it would 'incriminate' others who weren't cheating but whose result appear to be outside acceptable levels.

I don't agree that being an athlete should force your medical record (exemptions are ultimately that) into being public. I don't agree that simply because they are in the public eye (for a few years) means they should give up all privacy, they already have to tell the authorities where they will be for 1 hour every day.

NB - I find it interesting that we demand almost unachievable privacy for ourselves but are happy to argue that others shouldn't have any.

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Re: I don't agree that it should be *public* knowledge

Everything is public knowledge these days, because people trust nobody.

Ironically, people spaff every detail of their lives on Facebook anyway.

Explain if you can, I'll just have another whisky.

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Re: TUE secrets?

For (simple) instance, I take steroids. Doping right? When I say that these are in an inhaler to prevent asthma, is it still cheating

Let's come back to this one.

Steroids - probably no. Other asthma medication like formoterol and other beta-agonists is known to increase metabolic rates.

It CAN be used for doping (no different from let's say the doping use of ephedrine). The only way to track if it has been used for its due purpose or as a doping is to have series of pre- and in-competition tests tracking the quantity. WADA has not even considered this while granting exemptions for dual-use beta-agonists by endurance sportsmen.

By the way, this does not mean that any one of them has used it in this capacity, however they could easily do it. Not any different from the meldonium use by Eastern European athletes. Supposedly for heart conditions. Something for which they _CANNOT_ register TUEs by the way because it does not have FDA approvals so the doctors WADA uses for reviewing the exemptions say no straight away.

By the way - I will keep my opinion about an asthmatic vs a person with a heart condition in a Wimbledon final to my self.

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Anonymous Coward

Keep people's medical records private

As for the OIC and the Olympics: meh!

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Re: Keep people's medical records private

Two different issues:

1. Medical record - that should remain private.

2. Exemption from punishment if a specific chemical is found in testing. I do not see why this should remain private.

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Re: Keep people's medical records private

Because (2) exposes (1).

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Re: Keep people's medical records private

Because (2) exposes (1).

Not necessarily. It may expose 1 or may expose the fact that you have found a good enough group of witch doctors to fake 1 so you are allowed 2. In fact, that is 100 times easier in an totalitarian regime where the doctors are just being told to fall in line. It is also inherently unfair and politicised as the "doctor's opinion" can be arbitrarily rejected.

In addition to that, there is the very fine line between the amount of let's say steroids you need to take for a medical condition and the amount you take for performance enhancement. The tests cannot distinguish between the two. They show that the athlete has taken let's say a steroid. They do not show if they have taken a performance enhancing or a therapeutic dose. Looking at some of the muscles being demoed by some of the ladies which are now being leaked up as "exempt" I have very serious doubts that they were taking the therapeutic doses.

So while making "legally entitled to take doping" may expose medical histories, it should be public. Otherwise having a successful sports career suddenly becomes a matter of fabricating a long term medical history pretending to have a "condition" and that is definitely unfair on those who actually try to compete clean.

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Re: Keep people's medical records private

So what you're saying is that those who would like to enjoy the fundamental right to medical privacy should be forced out of competitive sport.

How is that not giving an unfair advantage to those who remain by removing competition?

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Keeping Schtum is a Hot Potato No No ..... I'll Say No More, Squire.

Altho' a Great Deal More Needs to be Said

That was remarkably restrained of you, Simon, to offer no view on the surely certain advantage given to athletes being pimped and pumped with Therapeutic Use Exemptions which practically overlook and virtually encourage and allow the use of banned substances, which are banned presumably because they are deemed performance enhancing and deliver an unfair advantage.

And that makes a mockery of the gross hypocrisy of the World Anti Doping Agency and creates a massive difficulty for businesses in sport when “these criminal acts are greatly compromising the effort by the global anti-doping community to re-establish trust in [---] the outcomes of the Agency’s independent McLaren Investigation Report"?

Rotten right through to its very core is a notion and international disaster being evidenced with anonymous hacks whistleblowing the truth right before everyones' eyes?

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Re: Keeping Schtum is a Hot Potato No No ..... I'll Say No More, Squire.

That made sense, lacked random capitals, had correct grammar and spelling, and seemed well thought through.

I think amanfromMars1's account has been compromised.

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Re: Keeping Schtum is a Hot Potato No No ..... I'll Say No More, Squire.

It's a typical Russian snow job. See look, other people are bending the rules a bit. If we engage in wholesale doping and cheating we're no different to anyone else. No. Really, no.

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Getting Right Down and Dirty to the Nitty Gritty is an APT ACT of Fabless Rebellion

Shooting the messenger rather than addressing the message is very typically and topically the snow job beloved of the West in order to try and hide that which deserves to be known, Richard 26.

And by such an action is guilt normally silently admitted and attributed?

Denying the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is a constant recipe for disaster, mayhem and madness which surely deserves to be challenged everywhere and anywhere all the time? No truth, no reality for then is one dealing with a subjectively contrived and directed fiction.

Please note that last sentence is not a question to embrace doubt but a simple statement of undeniable fact which one needs to accept and act upon if one does not wish to be taken for an ignorant fool and arrogantly fooled time and time again.

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Alien

Re: Keeping Schtum is a Hot Potato No No ..... I'll Say No More, Squire.

I've heard that if amanfromMars1 names you in one of their posts, then every computing device in your house will turn off at exactly 13:37, but only on even numbered days.

Some say he(\she\it)'s just a markov chain and that the alien head icon was added solely for his's use. All we know is, he's called amanfromMars1.

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Anonymous Coward

Silly move: they compromised any evidence.

The attack just made any evidence legally useless. They can have been modified just as downloaded.

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Anonymous Coward

Just like in other things, there is one standard for Americans, and another for every one else.

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Undermine WADA

"undermine WADA and the global anti-doping system."

I'd say WADA has done that for itself. There's no reason why one person should have access to all that information, so phishing shouldn't have been a viable option in the first place. Encrypt everything for an athlete with one or more keys, and only make those keys available on a need-to-know basis. And then you have to ask why there was no 2FA and no process to prevent this, and why they didn't know it had happened.

After Stepanova's hack they should have predicted this. The Reg commentards did...

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So, is there a handy list of athletes and TUE?

I'm sure plenty of sport fans have no interest in athletes alleged medical conditions but are interested in TUE as (depending what drug(s) they use) it could potentially confer an advantage, and as many sports are decided on small margins...

(With redactions as necessary, e.g. no need for info on genotypically female athletes taking contraceptive pill, but I'm not a fan of IOC letting self declared transgendered people compete as their "chosen" gender, I'm old skool and think that if you have a Y chromosome then you can only compete as a man)

I can understand the Russians wanting to reveal this as there has long been rumours of more subtle doping in some countries using "interesting" diagnoses and so athletes getting to "legit dope" via TUE

TUE info definitely of interest to people wanting to have "clean" sport

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The olympics are not political, AT ALL

Said the flying pig to the pink elephant

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Anonymous Coward

The middle way...

WADA should publish the % of athletes from each country granted medical exemptions to use otherwise prohibited drugs. If one nation were to come out with a significantly higher % that would be an indicator that the situation needs more careful attention in respect of that country.

It might me useful to go a little further and break down the stats by sport to help identify any country choosing to prioritise a specific sport but keep the overall exemption % low by ensuring low priority sports participants were zero exemption so the high priority sports could be pharma-assisted.

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Re: The middle way...

That is an extremely sensible, well thought out and entirely practicable approach, so we can now bookmark it and, next time round, speculate on why none of it happened.

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Re: The middle way... @Voyna i Mor

That is an extremely sensible, well thought out and entirely practicable approach, so we can now bookmark it and, next time round, speculate on why none of it happened. .... Voyna i Mor

Such speculation virtually always practically concludes that such shit always happens because certain parties are enjoying the sweet fruits and succulent rewards of unfair and crooked advantage, Voyna i Mor, and the systems they inhabit and infect are loathe to be made aware of their ignorance and hindered by arrogance and a lack of suitable applied intelligence from being prepared to destroy that abomination and false fix of reality/staged media event.

Such dodgy events though inescapably require an expanding series of similar false fixes flagging events which quickly turn highly toxic and self defeating/enlightening and deadly.

Such is the current state of Great Game Play today, is it not, and the collapsing rigged markets and so called leaders of state systems haven't a clue about what to do next to save themselves from a rapidly growing number of seriously pissed off and dangerous not to know entities?

Or is the tinted and tainted picture you see everywhere all sweetness and light and beds of roses?

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