Olympic star Mo Farah has shrugged off the leaking of his personal medical records by Russian hackers, insisting he has nothing to hide.
The information, which relates to two therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) he was granted so he could take medicine that would otherwise be banned, was stolen from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s data storage system.
Farah is among 66 international athletes, including 17 from Team GB, who have had their TUEs published online by the so-called Fancy Bears, with 26 in yesterday’s batch.
Spanish tennis great Rafael Nadal and Britain’s Olympic golf champion Justin Rose were the other big names released with Farah, joining last week’s high-profile cast that included American gymnastics queen Simone Biles, Tour de France winners Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins, and tennis sisters Serena and Venus Williams.
But just as Wiggins still faces questions over three injections of a powerful corticosteroid that he had not disclosed before, the first of Farah’s two TUEs became the immediate focus of the most recent leak as it was for the same drug prescribed to Wiggins - triamcinolone - and it seemed he had previously admitted to only one TUE.
That exemption was for a saline drip and two pain-killers that the 33-year-old was given after he collapsed in Park City, Utah, where he was training at altitude in 2014.
He said this was his only TUE at a press conference in Birmingham last June when asked about his coach Alberto Salazar, who remains under investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, but it has since emerged that he did mention the 2008 triamcinolone injection a few weeks later in an interview with Sky Sports News.
Responding to questions about this earlier TUE, a spokesperson for Farah said: “As Mo has previously stated, he has got nothing to hide and doesn’t have a problem with this or any of his (anti-doping administration and management system) information being released — as evidenced by the fact that he voluntarily shared his blood data with The Sunday Times last year.”
Now a five-time world champion, the 33-year-old completed a second straight 5,000-10,000 metres double at the Rio Olympics last month and there is no suggestion he, or any of the other athletes named by the Fancy Bears, have broken any rules.
The 30-year-old Nadal is probably the most eye-catching name among the rest of the athletes named by the Russian cyber terrorists on Monday, with his TUEs being for anti-inflammatory injections in September 2009 and shortly before he withdrew from London 2012 with tendinitis in his knees.
Of the 26, all but American sprinter Ariana Washington won medals in Rio, including four members of the Canadian women’s football team that earned bronze medals.
The vast majority of these TUEs are for asthma medication and many of these drugs no longer require special permission as they were reclassified in 2010.
There is one case, however, that highlights one of the key talking points around the TUE process — the right of each athlete for privacy — as it involves an African athlete on long-term medication of a personal and sensitive nature.
Balancing the current calls for more transparency with TUEs against the rights of an individual to keep certain issues private will be one of hardest challenges to resolve if the system is, as appears likely, to be reformed.
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