Only a few weeks after slaying the Rio Olympics (four gold medals, no less), gymnast Simone Biles has experienced one of the downsides of fame — her confidential medical records have been hacked.
The World Anti-Doping Agency issued a statement Tuesday revealing that Russian hackers had made the records of some U.S. Olympic athletes public, including Biles'. Her data showed that she had tested positive for methylphenidate, also known as Ritalin.
Methylphenidate is a banned WADA substance, but USA Gymnastics explained that Biles had received an exemption since she takes it because of a long-term medical condition. Biles herself was quick to offer further explanation, revealing on Twitter that she has ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and has taken medication for it since she was a child.
It's sad that we live in a world where people have no privacy. But Biles made it clear she wasn't ashamed of her condition.
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) September 13, 2016
The response to Biles' admission has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive, and so it should be. These hackers are nothing but cyberbullies with no motive other than to bring innocent people down. Biles has a condition that requires medication to manage it, and there's no way she should be punished for that.
Biles should feel no obligation to become any sort of "spokesperson" for ADHD. The fact that she's spoken so openly and proudly about her condition will in itself do so much to raise awareness and help eliminate stigma.
And there's no doubt that stigma still surrounds ADHD, because people who don't understand the condition jump to conclusions. This is particularly true when it involves kids with ADHD, because their hyperactivity, inability to control their impulses and failure to pay attention can be mistaken for bad behavior. ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder in children and can continue into adulthood. However, it can also go undiagnosed until adulthood, and the symptoms in adults may be quite different. Common signs of adult ADHD include trouble managing time, being organized, setting goals and holding down a job, as well as difficulties with relationships, addiction and self-esteem.
Biles couldn't have dealt with this situation any better. In fact, she deserves another gold medal.
For more information on ADHD in children and how to address the stigma, visit ADHD Together. The Attention Deficit Disorder Association has information on online resources and local support groups for adults with ADHD.
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