By Andrew Warshaw
August 22 – The notorious cyber hacking group Fancy Bears, whose doping suspicions cast a dark shadow over athletics and cycling, has turned its attention to football with a damning list of allegations about drug cheats at the highest level.
The shady anonymous group, which has infiltrated computer systems of several governments, claims that leaked documents show 200 players across the globe failed drug tests in 2016 which it says dispels the myth that football is generally clean. Three players tested positive for cocaine and one for ecstasy, claims the group.
“You can have a look at WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) documents revealing that more than 150 players were caught doping in 2015,” declared the group’s website. “The next year this number increased up to 200 athletes.”
“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 Bears, who made sporting headlines when they hacked the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the IAAF, the world athletics governing body, and released private medical details of a string of high-profile cyclists and track and field stars, describe themselves as an “international hack team” who “stand for fair play and clean sport”.
However, some cyber experts believe the group works in the interests of the Russian government and WADA has claimed that some of the information released by Fancy Bears did not “accurately reflect” their own records, suggesting some of it had been doctored.
Although it didn’t name the alleged footballing drug cheats, Fancy Bears did identify players it said were allowed to use Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. They allegedly included Argentina’s Carlos Tevez, Juan Sebastian Veron and Gabriel Heinze, Dirk Kuyt of the Netherlands and German striker Mario Gomez. The five, according to the hackers, were among 25 players given TUEs which allow a prescribed substance to be administered for medical reasons if the athlete concerned would otherwise suffer significant health problems.
Argentina have the most players on that list with four members of their squad allegedly using medication during the finals. Germany is the next highest with four.
The newly-leaked documents, which claim there were nine failed drugs tests in Britain connected to football in 2015, purport to suggest the game is rife with wrongdoers even though the authorities have long been at pains to stress that testing procedures are rigourously followed and that there are few positive tests compared to other sports.
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