BBC v Russia: Russian Embassy clashes with reporter over US athletes' data leak

Joe Hall
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Gymnastics - Artistic - Olympics: Day 6
the medical files of Simone Biles were among those leaked (Source: Getty)

Don't poke the bear. Especially not on Twitter. And especially not over doping in sport. You won't get away without an argument.

The BBC's home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford and the UK's Russian Embassy were engaged in an unlikely and bizarre social media spat over doping in sport that culminated in the latter being accused of practising Soviet Union media tactics.

On Tuesday night a group of Russian hackers calling themselves the "Fancy Bears" accessed and leaked medical data for American Rio 2016 stars including gymnast Simone Biles and tennis legend Serena Williams, revealing they had used banned medications with therapeutic use exemptions, meaning they were permissible under World Anti-Doping Agency rules with a doctor's approval.

Read more: UK Athletics chairman hits out at scandalously weak and lily-livered IOC over handling of Russia doping scandal

Russian authorities have distanced themselves from the hack, a stance greeted with some scepticism by Sandford after the Russian Embassy tweeted "Released Wada files show US athletes’ use of banned substances was tolerated and covered up. Quod licet Jovi...? [a Latin phrase often translated as 'Gods may do what cattle may not']".

That did not go down well. And the embassy responded by calling out Sandford for subjectivity, setting the spat in motion. See for yourself:

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