The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Friday said it has registered 400 cases after a flood of information from new whistle-blowers, and supports a US assessment that a 2016 hack of the agency was perpetrated by Moscow.
The agency has been approached by numerous whistle-blowers in the wake of Russian doping scandals, which were sparked by insiders revealing widespread doping and cover-ups, WADA director of intelligence and investigations Guenter Younger said.
Younger said he was “overwhelmed” with information after WADA opened a whistle-blower hotline in March last year.
“More and more whistle-blowers come and they say: ‘Now we are happy that we have someone that we can talk to,’” said Younger, a German policeman who investigated Russian doping cases for WADA and later took charge of its investigation unit. “I thought perhaps a few, but we have so many. We have 400 cases registered.”
The whistle-blowers include “many” Russians, Younger said, adding: “It was the Russians that took their system down and we as well need to acknowledge that and help them as well, that they can come back as clean athletes.”
Younger said that, despite the 2016 hack, WADA’s systems are now secure.
Separately, WADA spokeswoman James Fitzgerald said that the agency backed the assessment in a US indictment unsealed on Thursday of hackers working for the Russian state military intelligence agency targeted WADA and accessed athletes’ medical records.
“We have no reason to disagree with that assessment and, in fact, we’ve held that view all along,” Fitzgerald said on Twitter.
WADA reinstated the Russian anti-doping agency last month, making it easier for Russian athletes to compete abroad and for the country to host competitions. That decision could yet be reversed if Russia reneges on a promise to provide data from a Moscow anti-doping lab that could contain key evidence of earlier cover-ups.
Speaking on Friday alongside Younger at a conference organized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), IOC athletes’ committee head Kirsty Coventry that said Olympians had been rude to Russians who competed in neutral uniforms at this year’s Winter Olympics.
The Russians deserved more respect, Coventry said, citing an IOC vetting process that allowed 168 Russians to compete as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” (OAR).
“I was disgusted at how some of the athletes were treating the OAR team in Pyeongchang,” Coventry said. “It was awful to see and those athletes had gone through vigorous steps in being able to go and compete and were probably more clean than any of the other athletes there from some of the big nations.”
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