I’m an avid Tour de France (TdF) fan, but I didn’t think I’d get to write about it on this blog. This morning, however, a story broke suggesting that Team Sky – one of the most prominent and strongest teams on the tour – believe their computers have been hacked in an attempt to acquire data on current leader and former Tour de France winner Chris Froome.
Froome is one of the favourites for the gruelling 21 stage, 2,200 mile race, considered by many to be the toughest sporting contest on the planet. Sadly for cycling, it has been dogged by doping allegations for years, notably in the recent high-profile case of Lance Armstrong.
Now anyone at the top of the cycling tree is constantly under scrutiny about whether their efforts were enhanced. For the record, Froome has always insisted he is a clean rider and Team Sky has a zero-tolerance policy on drug use.
So, back to this morning’s alleged hack. Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford commented, “We think someone has hacked into training data and got Chris’s files”.
What can be gleaned from this data is debatable, with Froome himself remarking on social media that without context it meant nothing. It wouldn’t surprise me, knowing the TdF, if this whole episode was deliberately designed to unsettle Froome as the race entered its first mountain stages. Brailsford himself alluded to this, remarking:
“It’s part of the game, isn’t it? If he does well [on Tuesday], the rest of the Tour it’s ‘how do you know he’s not doping? The question of how to prove a negative is always going to be a difficult one. I used to worry about it a lot more, but I don’t any more. It’s part of the game. Just try to be honest, tell the truth, be open.”
What’s so interesting about this story is that one of the highest-profile sportsmen in the world has suffered a data hack. All data has value to someone, whether it be card information, email addresses or ‘power data’ on how quickly you can ascend a tear-inducingly steep hill.
In our modern world, data is everywhere. Make sure yours is protected.