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1ST LEAD WADA: Account of Russian whistleblower Yulia Stepanova was hacked By John Bagratuni and Alexandra Mayer-Hohdahl, dpa

Europe
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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - Someone has illegally accessed the user account of in-hiding Russian whistleblower Yulia Stepanova, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said Saturday - an intrusion that could tip off her location to the hacker.

The 800-metre runner Stepanova and her husband Vitaly Stepanov, a former member of Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA, were key witnesses in a German television documentary from December 2014 which for the first time exposed wide-ranging doping practices in Russia.

The allegations led to the suspension of the Russian athletics federation from the August 5-21 Olympics in Rio.

Stepanova, 30, now lives at an undisclosed location in the United States. Information about that location is likely to be contained in her account in the WADA anti-doping administration and management system (ADAMS).

The agency did not give information about what details in Stepanova‘s account were consulted. It said in a statement that her password for the system was "illegally obtained" and someone other than Stepanova "accessed her account."

"WADA immediately locked Ms Stepanova‘s account to prevent further access and notified her of the situation," it added. "A subsequent investigation by WADA allowed the agency to determine that no other athlete accounts on ADAMS have been accessed."

Stepanova was barred from competing in Rio by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) because she was found not to meet "ethical requirements," having been a part of the Russian doping system for several years and sanctioned for doping herself.

The decision came despite the fact that the ruling athletics body IAAF had granted her permission to run as a neutral athlete at events including Rio, owing to her "truly exceptional contribution to the fight against doping in sport."

The IOC considered a ban of all Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics based on the state-sponsored doping allegations, but decided against it, leaving the final decisions with the international sports federations. Some 270 Russians are competing in Rio.

WADA also said Saturday that its website had been hacked and that some users received e-mails appearing to come from the agency asking them to provide their personal credentials. It did not specifically say whether this is how Stepanova‘s account was accessed.

"Unfortunately, like many organisations, WADA is not immune to attempted cyber-attacks. Stakeholders can rest assured that the agency takes IT security and data privacy very seriously," it said, adding that law enforcement authorities had been contacted.

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