Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins are the latest athletes to be caught up in the Fancy Bears doping allegations - Photo montage: iStock

Cycling heroes Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins are among five British athletes to be named by Russian hackers on a list of people who’ve taken substances banned in sport.

The Russian hackers, calling themselves Fancy Bears - also operating under the name Tsar Team (APT28) - hacked the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) files, and have accessed records containing the details of hundreds, possibly thousands of athletes.

Former Tour de France winner and Britain's most decorated Olympian Wiggins has been named on the list after the WADA files show he took Salbutamil – a medication that opens the airways and lungs – back in 2008, along with a Formoterol and Budesonide – asthma medication – and Triamcinolone – a treatment for a pollen allergy.

It’s alleged that reigning Tour de France winner Froome took a substance called Prednisolone – an anti-inflammatory – in 2013 during the Critérium du Dauphiné and again in 2014 while competing in the Tour of Romandie.

"Froome has been dogged by allegations of doping for some time"

However, neither Wiggins, Froome, or any other athlete named by Fancy Bears have broken any laws or rules by taking these substances. While the medication in question is banned by the respective governing bodies of the sports, they can be taken if an athlete has a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).

The TUE effectively allows an athlete to treat a genuine medical condition – Wiggins life long pollen allergy, for example – with medication that may contain a trace of a banned substance.

So, in affect, all Fancy Bears have done is highlighted how clean Froome, Wiggins, and the other named athletes are. If the worst the hackers could find on the files is that they’re taking a bit of nasal spray that stops their hay fever – which they’ve been given permission to take so is perfectly legal, far from shaming anybody, it’s a display of absolute exoneration.

Chris Froome on the bike in yellow. Photo montage: iStock

Froome-wiggins-doping-Fancy-Bears-Wada-Froome-on-bike

Chris Froome on the bike in yellow. Photo montage: iStock

This is particularly good news for Froome, who has been dogged by allegations of doping for some time, even to the point where a lout among the spectators of the 2015 Tour de France threw a cup of urine on him, mid race. Fancy Bears have shown, quite clearly, that he’s not taken any substance he shouldn’t have.

It’s though that the hackers are causing such a stink following the banning of many Russian athletes from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. In a statement on their own website, Fancy Bears - which sounds more like a bag of crisps from Aldi that a clandestine band of computer nerds – claim that they are going to show how Olympic medals are won, and that they were shocked when they hacked WADA.

"The cyber-bullying of innocent athletes is cowardly and despicable"

They claim to initially target the US Olympic team, before moving on to other countries that did well in the Olympics, and it appears that it’s the turn of Team GB. Named so far are ten US athletes including gymnast Simone Biles, five Germans, five Brits, a Dane and, bizarrely, one Russian.

The Fancy Bears website, which claims to expose how Olympic Medals are won - screen grab: FancyBears

WADA Spokesperson Olivier Niggli said in a statement to the press, that he “deeply regretted" the hacking of their files, adding that the organisation was “very conscious of the threat that it represents to athletes whose confidential information has been divulged through this criminal act".

The US Anti-Doping Agency also released a statement saying “In each of the situations, the athlete has done everything right in adhering to the global rules for obtaining permission to use a needed medication. The cyber-bullying of innocent athletes being engaged by these hackers is cowardly and despicable."

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