Russia was last night (Wednesday) facing an extension of its exile from world sport over the hacking of the drug-testing records of every athlete at this summer's Olympics.
The rogue nation was warned the leak of secret data by a cyber-espionage group accused of operating out of the country had harmed its hopes of being reintegrated into the sporting community following bans imposed on it from Rio.
Russia reacted with typical defiance yesterday to the claims that the publication of confidential records, including those of the Williams sisters and gymnast Simone Biles, had been orchestrated from within its borders.
But the president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, Britain's Sir Craig Reedie, was in no doubt about the origin of the hack.
Russia has been declared non-compliant with the Wada Code since it was found guilty of state-sponsored doping by an independent commission appointed by the agency. Regaining compliance is seen as crucial step in its rehabil-itation, and could sway the decision of the International Association of Athletics Federations and International Paralympic Committee to lift the bans imposed on it for its transgressions.
Reedie told The Daily Telegraph: "I have been told that we have authoritative information on the identity of these people. At the moment, we're working on trying to make Rusada compliant, and this doesn't make it any easier."
Russia's sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, earlier denied there had been any government involvement in the hack. "How? how?" he said when asked whether there were state links to the so-called Fancy Bears group, which claimed responsibility for the leak and threatened to publish more secret documents in the coming days.
Mutko also said no proof had been provided by Wada that the hackers were from his country. "How can you prove that they are hackers from Russia? You blame Russia for everything," he added.
Wada admitted yesterday all 10,000 athletes competing at the Olympics may have had their drugs-testing records accessed from its Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (Adams).
As of last night, only legitimate medical exemptions granted to
Serena and Venus Williams, Biles and US women's basketball player Elena Delle Donne, and related testing records, had been published.