Gold medallist to 'stand up' to Russian hackers

British hockey player Sam Quek says the Fancy Bears wrongly implied that medical exemptions are a "licence to cheat".
British hockey player Sam Quek says the Fancy Bears wrongly implied that medical exemptions are a "licence to cheat".

LONDON • A member of Britain's victorious Olympic women's hockey team has spoken of feeling "violated" after she was among the latest group of athletes to have their medical details revealed by Russian hackers.

Sam Quek said that she became aware of the leak by the Russian group, Fancy Bears, when she saw a headline on social media claiming she had taken a banned substance.

In fact, she had been given a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for a salbutamol inhaler to treat asthma in 2008, and it was removed from the prohibited list six years ago.

The 27-year-old has been prompted to speak out by what she describes as a "pathetic attempt to smear me".

Quek, who won gold in Rio de Janeiro last month, fears that young athletes may now think twice about obtaining a TUE for a medical condition because of public misconceptions about exemptions.

Quek told The Times of London: "I was just at home yesterday when I saw an alert on social media with the headline from a hockey site saying, 'Gold medal hockey star takes banned substance'.

"When you click on to it of course you see it is nothing of the sort but it was my name there.

"I did feel violated, it was incredibly frustrating to see that type of headline and I wanted to stand up for myself.

"These data leaks... are making people who don't understand the process, or what a TUE stands for, think they are in some ways a licence to cheat. They are not.

"My real worry going forward is in future Olympic cycles there will be a hockey girl like me, chasing her Olympic dream and pushing her body to its limit in that (quest).

"She will become out of breath due to asthma and will need an inhaler, not to get an unfair sporting advantage, but to breathe.

"Yet she will think twice about using one, or perhaps use it and feel guilty about doing so, or worse still, refuse to use it completely."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2016, with the headline 'Gold medallist to 'stand up' to Russian hackers'. Print Edition | Subscribe