Fancy Bears
The Fancy Bears returned, posting this image to Twitter Fancy Bears screenshot/Twitter

A Twitter profile linked to suspected Russian hackers, which last year pushed out stolen health documents of athletes, resurfaced Wednesday (10 January) after a period of silence to leak alleged emails belonging to officials from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The 'Fancy Bears Hack Team'– seemingly linked to same notorious group known as APT28, previously credited with infiltrating the Democratic National Committee – posted an image of an Illuminati eye symbol alongside the caption: "Are you ready for some new stuff?"

The picture also featured the president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) Sir Craig Reedie and the president of the IOC, Thomas Bach.

A lengthy statement read: "It is apparent that the Americans and the Canadians are eager to remove the Europeans from the leadership in the Olympic movement and to achieve political dominance of the English-speaking nations." The spiel also accused sporting chiefs of "fighting for power and cash".

Who are Fancy Bears?

From its website, the hackers previously published what it claimed was proof that famous athletes had been "taking doping substances". Critics said the reports were largely out of context.

The first leak of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs), which are legal, was confirmed by Wada officials in September 2016. In an update in August, it warned athletes to be aware of email phishing.

The leak came after Russian athlete Yuliya Stepanova was targeted by hackers following her blowing the whistle on a huge, Russian state-sponsored, doping operation. A report later found collusion between the FSB, the Ministry of Sport (MofS) and the Russia's Anti-Doping Agency.

In its latest release the group said that Richard McLaren, the author of the report, "had been given a clear political order to expulse the Russian team from the games and to discredit the IOC."

Multiple cybersecurity firms analysing the group concluded it likely had ties to Russian intelligence outfit GRU. ThreatConnect, one firm, said the leaks were retaliation for Olympic bans.

The Fancy Bears group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Debate has been raging for months over whether Russian athletes should be allowed to partake in the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics, set to kick off in South Korea on 9 February.

In December 2017, Russia was banned from the competition, but officials noted that those who could prove they were free of doping substances could possibly participate under a neutral flag.

Earlier this week, cybersecurity company McAfee revealed that organisations linked to the event had been targeted by hackers. "The attackers appear to be casting a wide net with this campaign," McAfee said, noting that malware first began circulating in late December last year.

It remains unclear at this time if the fresh cybercrime wave was linked to the Fancy Bears group.

Doping in sport
Russian athletes tried almost anything to avoid doping tests, Wada said previously Getty