IAAF says it has suffered cyber attack

File footage of the IAAF and its president, Sebastian Coe who has apologised after athletics’ governing body suffered a suspected Russian cyber attack.

BEIJING, CHINA (FILE – AUGUST 19, 2015) (REUTERS) – The governing body of global athletics (IAAF) said on Monday (April 3) it had suffered a suspected Russian cyber attack which it believes has compromised information about athletes’ medical records.

An IAAF statement said a Russian hacking group known as Fancy Bears was believed to be behind the attack in February and that it targeted information concerning applications by athletics for Therapeutic Use Exemptions.

The IAAF said it had contacted athletes who had applied for TUEs since 2012 and its president, Sebastian Coe, apologised.

TUEs are issued by sports federations and national anti-doping organizations to allow athletes to take certain banned substances for verified medical needs.

The IAAF said that data on athlete TUEs was “collected from a file server and stored on a newly created file”.

It was not known if the information was stolen from the network, the IAAF said, but the incident was “a strong indication of the attackers’ interest and intent, and shows they had access and means to obtain content from this file at will”.

Fancy Bear could not immediately be reached for comment.

Last year, the same group hacked into the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) database and published the confidential medical records of several dozen athletes.

Those included cyclist Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France winner and Britain’s most decorated Olympian with eight medals, who was revealed to have used TUEs.

Wiggins retired last year under something of a cloud after it was revealed he took corticosteroid triamcinolone for asthma, although he broke no anti-doping rules.

The IAAF banned Russia after a WADA commission report found evidence of state-sponsored doping. Russia missed the track and field events at the Rio Olympics last year and is likely to also miss the world athletics championships in London in August.