When Russia was banned from participating in the Olympics, it seemed only a matter of time before the scorned country lashed back against athletes of other nationalities and try to take as many down with them as possible.
Very recently, a group calling themselves The Fancy Bears took the first step in doing just that.
Since the initial medical report leaks by this anonymous group, three other batches with some high profile names have been brought out which have, undoubtedly, raised several questions.
At first, this seemed to be an attack centered around America, when their initial statement did all it could to berate the authenticity of the American Olympics Team. At the recently concluded Games, the USA contingent ranked second among the list of maximum medals won by a country.
The squad also regaled the audience with some amazing performances in a variety of disciplines. This edition of the Olympics also saw the rise of Simone Biles who created history with her gymnastic skills.
For Fancy Bears to vehemently attack all the attention the Americans got was nothing surprising, given the tension eternally present between Russia and the States. The first batch saw allegations against Serena Williams, Simone Biles, Venus Williams and Elena Delle Donne. Over the course of the past week, four more tennis stars have been named among the 62 athletes whose medical records have been published.
Among these, the names of Petra Kvitova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands produce an unusual dilemma. While it is no secret that Kvitova suffers from asthma and hence takes required medications for her condition, the case of Mattek-Sands is a bit more problematic. In July 2014, Mattek-Sands first applied to be granted an exception for the use of DHEA - supplements which convert to steroids, including testosterone, upon entering the bloodstream.
This request came nearly two years after she applied for her first therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for hydrocortisone, a mild steroid to treat adrenal insufficiency. The concerned doctor who prescribed the use of DHEA supplements for her was Dr. Eric Serrano - a former bodybuilder who is notorious for having once said that he has worked with “thousands of steroid-using athletes.”
The reputation of Serrano precedes him. That, coupled with the fact that a certain Dr. Alan Rogol, an endocrinologist who works with the United States Anti-Doping Agency, acutely criticised the premise of Serrano's diagnosis and DHEA prescription, gives a completely ugly spin to this particular case.
Mattek-Sands' application for TUE in July 2014 was granted by the International Tennis federation but later revoked by WADA as it was thought that the supplements would work towards wrongfully enhancing her performance. The same thing happened when she applied for exemption in August 2014.
According to the documents published by the group of hackers this week, Mattek-Sands’s subsequent applications for a TUE regarding hydrocortisone have since been approved, most recently in April. It is this exemption that the Fancy Bears have questioned, keeping in mind that she recently won the gold medal in Mixed Doubles at the Rio Olympics.
More recently, another American tennis player, Varvara Lepchenko was cleared by the ITF after a provisional suspension from the game since March. She had, earlier, tested positive for melodium four times, but the substance was not banned until January 1 this year.
Here is a complete list of the tennis players who have been named in the Fancy Bears leak.
|Petra Kvitova||The Czech Republic|
|Bethanie Mattek Sands||USA|