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Russian Sports-Doping Whistle-Blower Says ‘Sorry’ For Cheating Clean Athletes

Grigory Rodchenkov in a 2007 photo

Russian sports whistle-blower Grigory Rodchenkov says he is “very sorry” for his role in what has been described as an "unprecedented systematic manipulation" of the Olympic anti-doping system.

"I am very sorry to all the clean athletes we cheated," the former laboratory director told the Associated Press in a statement sent through his lawyer on February 16.

"I am sorry to create such a problem because of my experience and knowledge," he added.

Rodchenkov organized the Russian system of doping before fleeing to the United States in 2016 and providing evidence of it to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Russian prosecutors have accused him of being largely responsible for the doping scandal, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has dismissed Rodchenkov’s claims as “yet more slander which doesn't have a single piece of evidence to support it."

In his interview, Rodchenkov denied allegations by President Vladimir Putin that his unmasking of the scandal was being controlled by officials in the United States.

In an interview on February 12 with CBS television’s 60 Minutes program, Rodchenkov, wearing a disguise, said he lives in fear of retaliation from Moscow.

"There is information that my life is in jeopardy, and we took all necessary steps," he said in explaining the disguise.

Some Russians are participating in Pyeongchang under the Olympic Athletes from Russia designation, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned Russia from competing as a team.

The IOC cited what it said was a long-standing state-sponsored doping program and "unprecedented systematic manipulation" of anti-doping systems at Winter Olympics that Russia hosted in Sochi in 2014.

The IOC did invite 169 carefully screened Russians to compete as independents in Pyeongchang.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and CBS