U.S. Olympic steeplechase silver medalist and Algonquin native Evan Jager denied using banned substances Thursday after a document released by Russian-linked hackers included Jager’s name among a list of athletes flagged as “likely doping.”
The data allegedly was part of Jager’s biological passport. Such passports, unlike traditional drug tests, track athletes' blood data for signs of doping over a long period. A single suspicious passport sample on its own isn't considered grounds for a ban and doesn't mean any trace of a banned substance was found.
The data posted by the Fancy Bears group include alleged International Association of Athletics Federations correspondence from April 2016 that lists Jager among athletes whose blood data was considered suspicious.
“I have so many questions as to how and why my name got on that list,” Jager, a 2007 Jacobs High School graduate, said in a statement released on his website. “I have never taken any banned substances and have always prided myself on doing things the right way and being a clean athlete.”
The data appeared to be hacked from the IAAF in April, according to the track body, which apologized Thursday to athletes whose confidentiality had been breached.
"The IAAF offers its sincerest apologies to the athletes who believed their personal and medical information was secure with us," the IAAF statement read.
The IAAF explained that the terminology “Likely doping” – along with other terms in the document such as "Normal" and "Likely medical condition" – is used to indicate whether an athlete’s biological passport profile should be further investigated. It does not provide a final determination on whether an athlete has committed an anti-doping rule violation.
"It is a dynamic process in which the status of an athlete’s profile can change at any time," the IAAF said.
Jager, who won his sixth straight U.S. steeplechase title June 25, finished second in the event at the Olympics in August in Rio de Janeiro. He is in Europe.
In his statement, Jager said he had no documentation that he even took a drug test Feb. 9, 2016, the date the documents claim he did.
“I’m still very saddened about the idea that people might think that I have broken the rules when I, and all those close to me, know that I have not,” Jager said in the statement. “It has always been important to me to not just do things the right way, but to have the trust of my fans and competitors and to prove to people that you can reach the top of the sport clean. I have never and will never break or try to bend an anti-doping rule. I hope this gets cleared up very quickly and that I can maintain the trust I have worked so hard to build in the running community.”
IAAF President Sebastian Coe acknowledged that security needed to be reviewed, although he urged against casting suspicion on athletes named in the hack.
The IAAF said the data – including numerous emails purportedly written by top IAAF managers – was apparently obtained in a hack the organization reported in April.
The Associated Press reported almost all the athletes named in the documents are from endurance events, where biological passports are particularly good at identifying the effects of drugs that boost the blood's ability to transport oxygen. But one prominent athlete from a throwing event also is listed as "likely doping."
The Associated Press has not been able to verify whether the documents are accurate.
Fancy Bears, known under a variety of other names, has been tied to the Kremlin by U.S. and German intelligence, as well as private researchers.
The group previously has mixed fake data with genuine records, the World Anti-Doping Agency said after it became the victim of a hack last year. WADA has said the hackers come from Russia, contending the hacks are "retaliation" for investigations into Russian drug use, which led to sanctions on Russia from WADA and the IAAF.
• The Associated Press contributed to this story.