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South African Olympic swimmer’s medical information hacked

The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport notes with dismay the release of various international athletes’ confidential medical information by the cyber hackers Fancy Bears.  This past weekend the hacker group released medical information hacked from the Anti-Doping Administration Management System (ADAMS) of South African Olympic swimmer, Cameron van der Burgh.

The releases centre on the use of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) by a number of athletes across the world. TUEs are issued to athletes who have a medical condition which requires treatment using substances that are normally prohibited by anti-doping authorities.

In South Africa, TUEs are issued in terms of strict rules and international standards and are assessed by an independent panel of medical experts. The process is designed to ensure that the requirement is genuine and that, in the prevailing circumstances, the substance does not afford the athlete an unfair advantage but rather addresses a medical condition.

The Fancy Bears leaks appear to be designed to discredit the World Anti-Doping Agency and national anti-doping agencies processes. SAIDS condemns the publication of confidential medical information and the attempt to also discredit individual athletes.

SAIDS would like to reassure the South African public that its TUE processes are rigorous and thorough. It remains confident that TUEs in the country are only issued in genuine cases and where they do not give athletes an unfair advantage.

That said, the leaks have given rise to speculation about abuse of TUEs by certain athletes and their doctors and there have been suggestions from certain quarters that the TUE process could and should be refined. SAIDS is continually improving its methods as part of the fight against doping and reviews of the TUE system will continue to be part of that.