Simone Biles: I Have ADHD And It's Nothing To Be Ashamed Of

By Victoria Kim 09/15/16

The Olympic gold medalist publicly addressed her ADHD diagnosis after her medical records were leaked by Russian hackers. 

Simone Biles: I Have ADHD And It's Nothing To Be Ashamed Of
Photo via People/YouTube

Nothing can faze Simone Biles. The 19-year-old gymnast who rose to stardom at this summer’s Rio Olympics is in the news again for another apparent controversy—but she took it in stride, using it as an opportunity to address the stigma of living with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

On Tuesday, the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) announced that Russian hackers had leaked confidential information about U.S. Olympic athletes including Venus and Serena Williams, basketball player Elena Delle Donne, and Biles. The leak revealed that Biles had tested positive for methylphenidate (also known as Ritalin), which is a banned substance. 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed to Newsweek that none of the athletes exposed in the hack had violated any anti-doping rules. The bulk of the leaked information involved Therapeutic Use Exemptions, which allow athletes to use banned substances if they are for treating legitimate medical issues.

This was the case for Simone Biles, USA Gymnastics said in a statement on Tuesday. “Simone has filed the proper paperwork per USADA and WADA requirements, and there is no violation,” said USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny. 

Biles posted her own response on Twitter, not shying away from the truth. “I have ADHD and I have taken medicine for it since I was a kid,” she wrote. “Please know, I believe in clean sport, have always followed the rules, and will continue to do so as fair play is critical to sport and is very important to me.”

She wrote in a separate post: “Having ADHD, and taking medicine for it is nothing to be ashamed of nothing that I’m afraid to let people know.”

At the Rio Olympics in August, Biles won four gold medals and one bronze, making her the most decorated American gymnast, with a total of 19 Olympic and World Championship medals.

Those who have been following the doping controversies surrounding this summer’s Olympic Games have speculated that the cyber attacks were an act of revenge orchestrated by the Russian government (though they deny any involvement). Nearly every member of Russia’s track and field team was banned at this year’s Olympics after it was discovered that the Russian government was behind a widespread doping scheme that was tracked to previous Games.

In May, a former director of the country’s anti-doping lab told the New York Times that dozens of Russian athletes participating in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics were given banned substances, and that their dirty urine samples were replaced with clean ones by Russian officials. The Russians won more medals than any other country at the Sochi Games that year.

The hackers say there’s more to come. “We will start with the US team which has disgraced its name by tainted victories,” they said. “We will also disclose exclusive information about other national Olympic teams later. Wait for sensational proof of famous athletes taking doping substances any time soon.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr