Young athletes’ health could be at risk from hackers leaking records, says Olympic gold medallist Samantha Quek.
British hockey player Quek was among 26 athletes whose details were published by the Fancy Bears hack team on Monday.
It showed she was given permission – a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) – to use a banned drug to treat her asthma.
Quek feels “violated” and says hackers wrongly linked TUEs to cheating, adding: “Young athletes coming through will be scared to use a TUE.”
The 27-year-old, who was part of the victorious British team at the Olympic Games in Rio, said she was “disappointed and irritated” to discover her records had been leaked, calling it a “pathetic attempt to smear me personally and Team GB as a whole”.
“But also, I am 100% a clean athlete – so it’s probably worked in my favour that the findings back up I am a clean athlete,” she told BBC Sport.
The records, which were stolen from a World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) database, showed Quek received permission to use an inhaler containing salbutamol in 2008. The drug was effectively removed from the banned list in 2010, with the rules on its use eased.
However, Fancy Bears claim TUEs are “licenses for doping”.
“My main concern is where does this lead, and what perception does this have on TUEs?” Quek said.
“The public are being led down a road that TUEs are now being associated with being a cheat, or dirty.
“My real worry is in future Olympic cycles there will be a hockey girl like me, chasing her Olympic dream and pushing her body to its limit. She will become out of breath due to asthma, and will need an inhaler; not to get an unfair sporting advantage, but to breathe. To make sure she does not die. Yet she will think twice about using one, or perhaps use it and feel guilty about doing so, or worst still, refuse to use it completely.
“TUEs aren’t about cheating, they are essential, sometimes even life-saving medical practices and should be viewed as such.”
Quek added the process of obtaining a TUE was rigorous.
Fellow British Olympic gold medallists Mo Farah, Helen Glover and Justin Rose, plus Spain’s 14-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal were among the 26 to have their details shared by the Fancy Bears on Monday.
Last week, Rio 2016 gold medallists Sir Bradley Wiggins, Laura Trott and Nicola Adams, plus three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome, were among those named as having TUEs.
There is no suggestion any of the athletes named are involved in any wrongdoing and the hacks have been condemned by anti-doping agencies.
British heptathlete Kelly Sotherton tweeted about TUEs on Monday
What are therapeutic use exemptions?
A TUE allows an athlete, for medical reasons, to take a prescribed substance or have treatment that is otherwise prohibited.
British athletes must contact their national governing body or follow Ukad guidance before applying for a TUE.
There are strict criteria for one to be granted:
- The athlete would suffer significant health problems without taking the substance.
- It would not be significantly performance-enhancing.
- There is no reasonable therapeutic alternative to its use.
- The need to use it is not due to prior use without a TUE.
Ukad says it has “a number of robust controls in place to make it as difficult as possible” for athletes to misuse the system.