On Sept. 13, 2016, a group of hackers leaked the medical records of some Olympic champions.
The hackers, who call themselves Fancy Bears, were actually Russian espionage agents — at least according to the World Anti-Doping Agency, whose job it is to make sure that athletes aren't pumped full of steroids or nanobots or whatever else might help them cheat.
And, supposedly, these files are the first of many more to come that will expose the athletes who allegedly got away with illegal drug enhancement at the 2016 summer games in Rio.
But the files didn't show what people expected.
Simone Biles, a "Final Five" gymnast who won four gold medals at the Rio games, was one of the victims of the hack.
And, as you can imagine, that put her in an awkward spot. Her tremendous display in Rio made her one of the most medaled gymnasts in history, beating the competition at one point with largest margin seen since 2006. And that's without even mentioning the bajillion other awards she's won in her 19 years of life.
But after Fancy Bears revealed that Biles was using "illicit" psychostimulants and amphetamines, her remarkable accomplishments were suddenly called into question. Was she a cheater? Did she actually earn the medals she won? Did she have an unfair advantage?
But it turns out that Simone's "illicit" medications were actually just a standard prescription given to people with a certain disorder:
https://t.co/tPxCJ1K2RZ— Simone Biles (@Simone Biles)1473796150.0
Having ADHD, and taking medicine for it is nothing to be ashamed of nothing that I'm afraid to let people know.— Simone Biles (@Simone Biles)1473796715.0
This wasn't quite the dark, insidious secret people were expecting, but it's still a pretty big deal for folks like me who also have ADHD.
In fact, ADHD affects about 5% of the population — and it tends to manifest differently for women, in particular. Unfortunately, ADHD meds can also be controversial — some people think it's overdiagnosed or think we use it as a way to describe energetic kids with a proclivity for video games and nothing more. Others, like the Fancy Bears hackers, like to point to the chemical similarities between certain ADHD medications and other illicit substances.
Proper treatment for ADHD goes a long way in helping people to succeed, just like Simone Biles.
And for those who are struggling with the shame and stigma around the condition, seeing an Olympic champion open up about ADHD is incredibly inspiring.
@Simone_Biles @kittenwithawhip SIMONE. You’re a goddamned HERO. Thank you for not staying silent and advocating for mental health.— alI-star devin booker stan account (@alI-star devin booker stan account)1473804316.0
@Simone_Biles my whole child hood, totally understand— Eric LeGrand (@Eric LeGrand)1473801919.0
@Simone_Biles my parents tell me not to tell ppl I have ADHD & take medicine but I'm proud to tell ppl Bc they're surprised when I tell them— Yehudah Weitz (@Yehudah Weitz)1473796820.0
If anything, this revelation somehow makes Biles' accomplishments seem even more amazing.
In many ways, she's had to work twice as hard for them.
So congratulations, Simone — on your Olympic victories and on the admirable perseverance that makes you a mental health role model too.