An indictment released today by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) accusing state-sponsored Russian operatives of “International Hacking and Related Influence and Disinformation Operations” is raisng questions about what, if any, were the effects of the hacking on the U.S. Ski & Snowboard teams.
The Montreal-based World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and Colorado Springs-based U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) were both listed as victims in the indictment against seven Russian nationals alleged to be working for the GRU, an arm of Russian intelligence believed to be behind cyberattacks worldwide.
Spearphishing, or targeted attempts to steal the login credentials from an organization, was among the methods used to target WADA. The USADA was apparently compromised via WiFi networks used by anti-doping personnel.
The overall aim of the campaign, according to a DOJ statement, was to:
“publicize stolen information as part of an influence and disinformation campaign designed to undermine, retaliate against, and otherwise delegitimize the efforts of international anti-doping organizations and officials who had publicly exposed a Russian state-sponsored athlete doping program and to damage the reputations of athletes around the world by falsely claiming that such athletes were using banned or performance-enhancing drugs.”
According to the statement, the attacks were likely in retaliation to reports documenting Russian state-sponsored doping around the 2014 Socchi Olympics. Documentaries like “Icarus” and others helped bring the issue into public consciousness.
It remains to be seen whether the U.S. Ski & Snowboard teams were forced to compete against Russian athletes that would have otherwise been banned from competition by WADA, or whether the teams were affected more broadly in any way.
When contacted by Unofficial about the indictment, a spokesperson for U.S. Ski & Snowboard declined to comment.