WADA political cartoon
By now the pattern is not only familiar. It has become absurd. Sensitive, damning information is leaked into the Western public domain, and instead of explaining the contents - the response is: "Blame the Russians".

This week saw the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) being embarrassed with the release of confidential medical records showing how top US athletes were permitted to take banned drugs because they were given "Therapeutic Use Exemptions" by WADA. The athletes included multi-gold medal gymnast Simone Biles and tennis legend Serena Williams.

More leaked files by the hacker group involved have now embroiled British cycling champions Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, who were also permitted to take banned chemicals through the official, but secret, designation of "exemptions".

Thus far, some 29 athletes from eight countries have been implicated in the leaks for taking banned substances, including the US, Britain, Germany and interestingly enough one case from Russia. The latter tends to contradict Western claims that the hackers are "Russian agents".

Without any evidence, WADA has condemned the publication of confidential medical records as an act of "revenge" by Russian state cyber agents. That charge against Russia has been dutifully amplified by the Western news media.

For example, Britain's Independent newspaper ran the headline: "Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome among the athletes named in new attack by Russian hackers". Note how Russian hackers are cited by the Independent as if their alleged guilt is fact. Notice too how the newspaper also shifts the focus subtly away from the two athletes' drug use (not mentioning it in the headline) to the insinuation of Russian hacking.

Russian authorities have flatly rejected any involvement in this week's release of WADA's files.

Comment: Putin: We don't approve of WADA hackers, but information they leaked raises questions
"We don't approve of what hackers do, but what they've done is definitely of interest to the international community, especially the sports community," the Russian president said, as cited by RIA Novosti.

"It raises a lot of questions. It turns out that healthy athletes legally take medications that are prohibited for others, and the people who obviously suffer from serious illnesses and severe disabilities are being banned from the Paralympics only on suspicion of using some kind of drugs," he added.

The group claiming to have carried out the hack goes by the title of "Fancy Bear". It is doubtful that such an obvious name would be used by Russian state intelligence, as is being alleged in the Western media. Their website design also has the look of the Western anarchist hacker group, Anonymous.

In any case, the focus on who actually carried out the information breach is besides the most important issue, which is the content of the disclosure. And that in turn suggests that the rush to blame "Russian agents" is an attempt to shoot the messenger in order to obscure the message.

What the public should be debating is WADA's criteria for permitting some athletes from certain countries to avail of "exemptions" for using powerful psychotropic drugs and steroids - and, secondly, the organization's self-designation to keep such information secret from public purview.

WADA, which has an evident Western bias from its organizational composition and governmental funding sources, was instrumental in accusing Russia of "state-sponsored doping". Those allegations led to the banning of Russia's field and track athletes from the Rio Olympics. WADA's allegations also resulted in banning the entire Russian Paralympic team in subsequent games.

The anti-doping agency's reports into Russian sports have been roundly criticized elsewhere for lack of due process and verifiable proof and for selective use of dubious sources.

The disclosure now that top American and British athletes were also using banned substances - but allowed to get away with it by WADA - only reinforces the perception that the agency is far from an objective international authority, but rather is a political tool applying double standards specifically to impede Russia.

The media reaction-for-distraction is to shoot alleged Russian messengers over what is an important disclosure about WADA's conduct and what should be an urgent public debate over how the Rio Olympic games appear to have been hijacked by geopolitical interests to demonize Russia. Even though, there is no substantive evidence presented that Russian "messengers" were indeed behind the WADA leaks.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is a Master's graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.