On Tuesday, Russian hackers infiltrated the World Anti-Doping Agency’s athlete database and published medical records detailing the banned medications taken by three U.S. athletes: gymnast Simone Biles and tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams.
To be clear, none of the medications violated athletic rules. They were drugs commonly prescribed for ailments like allergies and pain and ADHD medication for Biles, reports The New York Times, and required the three athletes to get requisite approval from the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Which they did.
Hackers Fancy Bear and the group Anonymous claimed responsibility for the hack, saying Biles, Serena, and Venus “played well but not fair” at the 2016 Olympics. The hack was apparently in retaliation to Russia’s recently uncovered doping scandal. But Biles just won four gold medals in Rio. Serena and Venus both competed in Rio and at the U.S. Open-though headlines featured their upsets, not their wins. These athletes are incredibly visible right now.
They are also female, and all three are women of color.
More than revenge, the hackers took three very specific athletes and tried to strip them, not just of their privacy, but of their power.
In popular culture and sports culture, Biles, Serena, and Venus have fearsome power. They are brand spokespeople and role models and record-breakers. Their fans span generations. The hackers said they would release records on more athletes in the coming days. But they chose to lead with Biles, Serena, and Venus, grossly invading their privacy but not actually revealing disqualifying information. They chose three women who defy odds. Read more