Kremlin-linked hackers published stolen emails from the International Olympic Committee and World Anti-Doping Agency Wednesday in retaliation for Russia’s ban from next month’s Winter Olympics.
The data dump by the Fancy Bears group also contained emails from the United States Olympic Committee and some third-party groups.
The hackers, also known as APT28, were allegedly responsible for breaching the email servers of the Democratic National Committee in 2016. U.S. intelligence officials link the group to the GRU, Russia’s foreign military intelligence agency.
The hackers have previously targeted sports organizations, including the IAAF, the world athletics governing body, releasing medical records of high-profile athletes such as Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins, and Chris Froome.
The emails released Wednesday, which date from the end of 2016 to the spring of 2017, focus on correspondence between investigators who uncovered widespread doping carried out by Russian athletes.
The contents have yet to be verified, and in the past the group has tried to hide fake emails within legitimate email dumps. However WADA has tacitly confirmed the emails’ veracity.
“The Fancy Bears are a criminal organization which seeks to undermine the work of WADA and its partners,” spokesperson Maggie Durand said. “Everything that they have posted today is dated.”
Among the targets is Richard McLaren, a Canadian lawyer and professor who spent more than a year probing Russian cheating. His report led to the ban being imposed, though he didn’t personally advocate for that punishment.
Teasing the leak on Wednesday, the hackers posted an Illuminati-themed picture of WADA boss Craig Reedie and IOC President Thomas Bach.
Russian was banned last month from the forthcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, for systemic doping — an unprecedented punishment in the history of the event.
In a statement, Fancy Bears said “the Europeans and the Anglo-Saxons are fighting for power and cash in the sports world” and suggested Russia’s ban is linked to bribery within the Olympic movement:
“[The U.S. and Canada] are looking toward depriving Lausanne’s old corrupt officials of access to multimillion funds and bribes that form an integral part of the sports world.”