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U.S. Says Russians Were Behind Cyberattacks on Antidoping Agency

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The Russian Olympic Committee headquarters and the Russian Athletics Federation office in Moscow.

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Maxim Shipenkov/European Pressphoto Agency

United States intelligence officials have determined that last year’s cyberattacks on the World Anti-Doping Agency originated with the Russian government, perpetrated in apparent retaliation for what President Vladimir V. Putin deemed to be an American-led effort to defame Russia for widespread doping.

That conclusion was published Friday in a declassified intelligence report ordered by President Obama. The report centered on Russia’s efforts to affect the 2016 American presidential election at Mr. Putin’s direction, while also referring to Russia’s related “influence efforts against targets such as Olympic athletes and other foreign governments.”

“A prominent target since the 2016 Summer Olympics has been the World Anti-Doping Agency,” the report said.

WADA, the global regulator of drugs in sports, commissioned numerous investigations into systematic Russian doping last year. In July, the agency recommended that Russia be barred from the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro for its state-sponsored doping program that persisted for years and spanned disciplines.

Weeks later, the regulator discovered that its database containing the private medical information of international athletes had been breached. A group identifying itself as Fancy Bear — a Russian cyberespionage group that forensics experts had tied to the Russian government — published the records of athletes who had received special clearance to take typically banned substances for medical reasons.

In Friday’s report, American intelligence officials concluded that the Fancy Bear hacks had originated with Russia’s main military intelligence unit, the G.R.U., which also had begun working to influence the American election last March.



OPEN Document

Document: Intelligence Report on Russian Hacking


Many of the records stolen from the doping regulator related to American athletes, including Simone Biles, the gymnast who won numerous medals for the United States in Rio, and the tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams. The release of the records was an apparent attempt to discredit the athletes and paint the United States as hypocritical, Friday’s report stated.

On Friday, Catherine MacLean, a spokeswoman for the antidoping agency, pointed to the organization’s statement in September 2016 condemning the criminal activity and noted that the agency had “asked the Russian government to do everything in their power to make it stop.”

Russian news media and sports officials have repeatedly invoked the stolen records in recent months, arguing that they are evidence of legalized doping and what they perceive to be the preferential treatment of Western athletes. Regulators and Olympic officials have repeatedly defended the affected athletes, noting that they followed proper procedure and received formal clearance.

“Russia never had the opportunities that were given to other countries,” Vitaly Smirnov, a former top Russian sports official appointed by Mr. Putin to reform the nation’s antidoping system, said last month, referring to the hacked records as evidence. “The general feeling in Russia is that we didn’t have a chance.”

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