The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics got plenty of negative media attention for unfinished hotels, questions of human rights in relation to Russian policies, and questionable judging. Here’s one you may not have heard about: Russian skater Julia Lipnitskaia had her dressing room bugged, possibly by competition, but in this case, more likely by the Russian media. I wondered if they missed a hidden camera during their search.
Lipnitskaia had to be evacuated from the rink, and the stress seriously affected her performance. Her coach also alleges that media agents stalked the girl’s family.
In this post, I discuss the illegal bugging of celebrity athletes, and the unique considerations of providing private investigation for celebrities.
Since Lipnitskaia is only 15, the implications of recording devices in her dressing room are especially disturbing. Even though the bugs were listening devices, presumably intended to catch any juicy quotes, it is still a major invasion of the privacy of someone who is still essentially a child. It’s no wonder that she was shaken enough that it became a factor in her performance.
Whether the media or rivals are responsible for sports intrigue, it often does end up affecting very young people. This is especially true in sports like figure skating, where competitors, especially female competitors, are often still in their teens. While it is reprehensible to invade anyone’s privacy in such a manner, it is especially alarming when it is a child, regardless of nationality or celebrity.
Maintain your privacy, regardless of circumstances
Obviously, as an Olympic competitor, Lipnitskaia is an especially high profile young athlete. But even local, regional, or national competitions can get vicious. While the Russian bug planters may have been looking for quotes, listening devices could just as easily be used to spy on strategies, particularly for team sports. If the media doesn’t plant them, people who are intended to be role models for the athletes they’re leading will likely have planted them. After all, the coaches are more likely to be interested in rival strategies than the players are.
If you are a coach or part of a sports investigation at any level, from youth competitions to professional leagues, you should be aware of the possibility of a bugged locker room. If your organization gets a lot of media coverage, then media bugging is probably more likely. The media has fewer repercussions to worry about if the bug is found, after all. A news organization can simply blame a single reporter and fire them, but a team or competing athlete could be disqualified for such behavior.
While it is important to find out who ultimately planted a bug, the first priority should be discovering and removing any devices. Obviously, it would be better still to prevent any such incidents from occurring in the first place, but depending on the sport and how much your team or athlete travels, that may be difficult or impossible. You can protect your dressing room or locker room in your home arena or field, but it is harder to do so elsewhere.
Celebrities, privacy, and private investigation
Celebrities have a unique set of problems and considerations to contend with on a daily basis. Privacy can be a rare thing, so when a dificult situation presents itself, it can be hard to find someone to trust and work with in resolving it.
Over the years, we’ve provided private investigation for celebrities (including A-list actors, celebrity athletes, studio executives, and high-profile corporate executives) that is unparalled with regard to the client’s privacy and the overall results of the case. If you or someone you know is in a dificult situation with privacy being a key concern, let us know how we can help.