Kremlin-linked Fancy Bear hackers are back to leaking data. This time the Russian cyberespionage group has claimed to have exposed football players' alleged drugs use. The hackers, who are also believed to have carried out targeted cyberattacks during 2016 US presidential election, including the DNC hack, have leaked names of nine British football players, among 160 worldwide footballers who allegedly failed drug tests in 2015.
Fancy Bear hackers also leaked names of 25 2010 World Cup players who were cleared to use banned medicines during the South Africa tournament. Ex-Premier League players Carlos Tevez, Dirk Kuyt and Gabriel Heinze were among those who were allegedly given therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) during the world cup.
The hackers' leaked files reveal that four of the failed drug tests from 2015 were allegedly registered by UK Anti-Doping (Ukad). The leaked documents also allegedly claim that three of the players tested positive for cocaine and one for ecstasy.
"Today Fancy Bears' hack team is publishing the material leaked from various sources related to football. Football players and officials unanimously affirm that this kind of sport is free of doping. Our team perceived these numerous claims as a challenge and now we will prove they are lying," Fancy Bear hackers said.
"As international pressure on Russia intensifies, with open calls to strip Russia of World Cup in 2018 and recent the FIFA investigation into suspected prohibited substance abuse of the national soccer team, today's release was almost guaranteed to surface, cybersecurity firm Recorded Future told. "The message reads very clear and loud - 'Dare to touch us, we'll come after you. Don't expect us to remain silent and maintain status quo.'"
The leaked files also contain an alleged email sent to Fifa by the Football Association's head of integrity, Jenni Kennedy. The leaked emails allegedly reveal that Middlesbrough's George Friend had received triamcinolone prior to the team's game at Stoke in March 2017. However, the UKad reportedly ruled that the 29-year old had not breached the anti-doping regulations after the footballer provided medical evidence of him having been prescribed the corticosteroid for legitimate reasons.
The FA said it was "disappointed that strictly confidential information has been released into the public domain" since the data in the leaked emails pertain to ongoing investigations, BBC reported.
Fifa condemned the leaks "in the strongest terms" adding that the information had been obtained illegally. "The release of such information constitutes a clear violation of the athletes' privacy and puts at risk the ongoing fight against doping," Fifa said.
Ukad head Nicole Sapstead also condemned the leaks adding that "the theft of medical data is completely unacceptable and this leak does not advance the cause of the anti-doping community at all".
Former Manchester United and Argentina midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron, along with Diego Milito, and Walter Samuel were also among those named by the Fancy Bear hackers for allegedly using banned drugs during the 2010 World Cup. All of the players had TUEs ahead of the team's 4-0 quarter-final exit to Germany.
Four German football players, including Mario Gomez, were also named in the document, however no British football players were named. It is important to note that the TUEs do not imply any wrongdoing.
This is not the first time that Fancy Bear hackers have targeted prominent international sports personalities. The Russian hackers have previously hacked the Wada database, leaking athletes' private and confidential medical records. British cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins, Mo Farah, Helen Glover and Justin Rose were among the British athletes whose medical records were leaked by the hackers.
"Previous Fancy Bear dumps were almost always retaliatory and in response to sanctions from various international sports organizations. When the Russian athletic team was banned from participating in World Athletics Championships in London, embarrassing IAAF doping reports about major Western athletes were made public," Recorded Future told IBTimes UK.