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Russian spies 'tried to hack' world anti-doping body

Two Russian agents are being probed by Swiss investigators over an attempted cyber attack on the world anti-doping watchdog, it has emerged.

It comes after it was reported that an international investigation had resulted in two “Russian spies” being arrested in the Netherlands over a plot to hack a Swiss lab.

The two agents suspected of attempting to carry out the cyber attack on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) are the same as the pair held in the Netherlands.

Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG) said: “As part of these proceedings, the OAG, in co-operation with the Federal Intelligence Service, was able to identify two individuals.

The headquarters of the International Olympic Committee
Swiss prosecutors suspect spies tried to hack the International Olympic Committee

“The aforementioned criminal proceedings… refer to criminal proceedings being conducted by the OAG due to a cyber attack against the World Anti-Doping Agency.”

The Swiss intelligence service said on Friday it had foiled a Russian plot targeting a Swiss laboratory used to test nerve agents such as novichok.

Swiss media reported that the latest attack was on offices of WADA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), both of which are in Lausanne.

Both organisations have been investigating widespread allegations of doping by Russian athletes.

The investigations into doping have led to dozens of athletes being banned and Russia being barred from the Olympics and other international events.

Tages-Anzeiger newspaper said the two Russian agents went to a meeting of the IOC, while Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency was suspected of carrying out the hacking attack on WADA.

The Russian embassy in Switzerland called the reports “fairy tales”, and claimed the release of the news was an attempt to derail the reinstatement of Russia’s own anti-doping authority.

Russia has been banned from policing its own athletes’ use of controlled substances since 2015 after expert analysis found it had helped more than 1,000 Russian competitors beat the system.

The suspected Russian spies targeted the Spiez laboratory located near Bern
The Swiss intelligence service said it foiled a Russian plot targeting a Swiss laboratory

On Friday, WADA’s compliance review committee recommended the organisation should allow RUSADA, Russia’s anti-doping agency, to operate again.

This was despite a letter being sent to WADA by British athletes, warning the organisation it would be a “catastrophe for clean sport” if Russia was reinstated.

The Russian embassy in Bern, referring to the reports by Tages-Anzeiger and others, said: “It is noteworthy that these publications, which include adjectives like ‘suspected’ and ‘presumably’ has appeared immediately after the World Anti-Doping Agency Compliance Review Committee issued a recommendation to lift the suspension of the Russian Anti Doping agency.

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The full story behind the novichok poisonings

“It is hard to avoid the impression that’s why the latest fairy tales about Russian hackers attacking WADA were so necessary right now.”

Both WADA and the IOC are yet to comment.

On Friday, Swiss and a Dutch newspapers reported that authorities from Britain, the Netherlands and Switzerland had teamed up to identify the two Russian agents who are suspected of trying to hack the Spiez laboratory.

At the time when the alleged hack took place, the lab was analysing novichok samples from the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

It resulted in the Netherlands expelling the two suspected Russian spies in March.

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