What’s up with WADA? ‘Anti-doping agency practicing double standards against Russian Olympians’

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Western media and government reaction was to divert attention from the news that some US athletes took banned substances by alleging Russian hackers were able to acquire the details, Italian sports journalist Marcello Foa told RT.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has confirmed its databases had been compromised, saying the attack was carried out by a hacking group known as Fancy Bear.

And judging by Wednesday's headlines, the organization's alleged ties to Russia excited the mainstream media far more than the doping scandal itself. The Russian government has dismissed any possibility that it had anything to do with the incident.

RT: Why has the media chosen to focus on the hack attack rather than on the revelations themselves?

Marcello Foa: This is typical of a spin reaction. The doping affair has been treated in a very particular way which means that Russians are the bad guys and everything should be read in this light… The reaction of the mainstream media and of the governments was to try to divert the attention from the core of the news which is that some athletes took some drugs, to the fact that the hackers were able to take these documents. It is typical and it works very well when you have to create the right mood in the media. And the right mood according to Western public opinion has been created quite a long time ago. It is quite an easy game.

RT: With WADA pointing the finger at Russia. Will this incident further aggravate the already strained relations between the two?

MF: Yes, it will aggravate. On which basis can they say the hackers are Russian? It is pure speculation. What we can see is that the hackers usually try to not to let other people know where the attack [originated]. So, it is always very difficult to know who is getting into your website or your archives. This is very strange accusation. It is something that is supposed or maybe it might be Russians but there is no proof about it… It is typical of the spin that has been created a few months ago.

"The problem is that it’s been going on for years and I think the work has been done poorly by both sides. WADA… definitely doesn’t look in a good light and is really having a big problem explaining themselves. Everybody understands. We need to speak about it and make it bigger than it is. Everybody knows what is going on; everything is on the internet. So, instead of barking around, screaming and speculating, we just need to sit down and do the job properly like professionals." - Marat Safin, retired Russian former No.1 tennis player.

RT: Do you think the athletes involved in this scandal will be treated any differently by the media and other competitors?

MF: Yes, the American athletes have been treated differently. What is surprising is that if some athletes have been authorized to take these substances, they should have been made public as soon as it was decided by WADA. And this didn’t happen. Why didn’t they tell that Serena Williams or Simone Biles took some drugs under medical permission? What strikes very much is the silence about this topic which now allows everybody to think whether the victories or the sports performance have been really clean or not. But of course, there are double standards: the Russians are all bad guys and we see that at the Paralympics Games they all had been banned and other athletes they have a sort of very light comprehensive attitude from WADA, which is not fair.

RT: If these medications were indeed prescribed to them, shouldn't that fact have been made public. So that other athletes are aware of the situation?

MF: Yes, they should have been made public and they didn’t. And also what kind of disease do they have? We don’t know anything about it. It is really puzzling. According to these circumstances, you can really doubt whether they really needed this substances or not. And this is really damaging for the WADA reputation, but the focus is on the so-called Russian hackers.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.