As Putin seethes over Olympic ban, doping whistleblower fears for his life 

The whistleblower who exposed Russia’s systematic doping of Olympic athletes has been warned by U.S. officials that Russian agents may be inside the United States looking for him, and that new security measures needed to be taken to ensure his safety, the lawyer for the whistleblower tells Yahoo News.

The warning about a possible threat on the life of Grigory Rodchenkov, former director of the Moscow Anti-Doping Center — and by his own admission, one of the masterminds of a vast Russian cheating scheme — came earlier this month, within a day after the International Olympic Committee banned Russia from participating in the upcoming Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, according to the lawyer,  Jim  Walden. The ban, which has been vigorously protested by Moscow, was imposed after Rodchenkov, who fled to the United States two years ago, told authorities how he had helped Russian athletes dominate the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014 — and evade detection by tampering with urine samples.

76 PHOTOS
2018 Olympics: Team USA portraits
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2018 Olympics: Team USA portraits
Bobsled athlete Kehri Jones poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She does not listen to while training but listens to pop and rap on race day. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Figure skater Ashley Wagner poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Wagner listens to Beyonce while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure skater Mirai Nagasu poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Nagasu listens to pop while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure skater Karen Chen poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Chen listens to Taylor Swift's "Look What You Made Me Do" while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure skater Adam Rippon poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Rippon listens to electronic dance music while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Alpine Skier Jackie Wells poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She listens to hip hop and rap while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Figure skater Jason Brown poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Brown listens to Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop the Feeling" while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Alpine Skier Mikaela Shiffrin poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She listens to "Dark Necessities" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Figure skater Nathan Chen poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Snowboarder Kelly Clark poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She listens to christian music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Alpine skier Laurenne Ross poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She listens to old school rap and indy rock while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Figure skater Mariah Bell poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Bell listens to Beyonce while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Snowboarder Chole Kim poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Ice dancers Alex Shibutani and Maia Shibutani pose for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. The pair listens to Coldplay and Perez Prado while they train. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Skeleton racer Annie O'Shea poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. O'Shea listens to J. Lo and Skrillex while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Ice Hockey player Troy Terry poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. He listens to classic rock while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Kenworthy listens to pop music while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Bobsled athlete Jamie Greubel Poser poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She listens to pop and rap music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Skeleton racer Katie Uhlaender poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Uhlaender listens to hip hop while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Paralympic Nordic Skiing athlete Oksana Masters poses for a portrait with her medals from Sochi at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She listens to Jay Z and hip hop music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Luge racer Erin Hamlin poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Hamlin listens to alternative music while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Skeleton racer John Daly poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Daly listens to Wake Me while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Bobsled athlete Aja Evans poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She listens to hip hop music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Paralympic Nordic Skiing athlete Aaron Pike poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. He listens to Seven Nation Army by White Stripes while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Luge racer Chris Mazdzer poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Mazdzer listens to 3LAU and Martin Garrix while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Snowboarder Ryan Stassel poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to heavy rock while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Snowboarder Alex Deibold poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to Motley Crew songs while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Nordic Combined skier Bryan Fletcher poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Fletcher listens to Macklemore while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Nordic Combined skier Bryan Fletcher poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Fletcher listens to Macklemore while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Cross-country skier Jessie Diggins poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Diggins listens to pop and dance music while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Short track speedskater Katherine Reutter-Adamek poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Adamek listens to the Chainsmokers and electronic dance music while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. She listens to electronic swing music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. She listens to electronic swing music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Long track speedskater Brittany Bowe poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Bowe listens to electronic dance music while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Paralympic sled hockey player Josh Pauls poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to rap music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Long track speedskater KC Boutiette poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Boutiette listens to Eminem while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Paralympic sled hockey goalie Steve Cash poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to musician Kevin Gates while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Paralympic snowboarder Mike Schultz poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to classic rock music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Skeleton racer Matt Antoine poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Antoine listens to '90s alternative music while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Biathlon athlete Lowell Bailey poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. He listens to Steely Dan and old rock while training . REUTERS/Mike Blake?
Luge racers Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman pose for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Mortensen listens to metal and punk, Five Finger Death Punch and Rise Against, while he trains and Terdiman listens to hip hop, People Under the Stairs and Kendrick Lamar. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Bobsled athlete Elana Meyers Taylor poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She listens to hip hop and pop music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Biathlon athlete Susan Dunklee poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She prefers not to listen to any music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Luge racer Tucker West poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. West listens to pop music while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Ice hockey player Jordan Greenway poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. He listens to hip hop music while training . REUTERS/Mike Blake
Skeleton racer Annie O'Shea poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. O'Shea listens to J. Lo and Skrillex while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Luge racer Erin Hamlin poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Hamlin listens to alternative music while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Freestyle skier Ashley Caldwell poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Caldwell listens to alternative rock while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Freestyle skier Morgan Schild poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Schild listens to rap while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Snowboarder Hagen Kearney poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to Motorhead and Black Sabbath while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Freestyle skier Kiley McKinnon poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. McKinnon listens to hip hop and rock music while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Snowboarder Jamie Anderson poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. She listens to 90's hip hop while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Snowboarder Red Gerard poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Snowboarder Chase Josey poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Josey listens to hip hop and punk while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Snowboarder Ryan Stassel poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to heavy rock while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Snowboarder Nate Holland poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to rock music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Freestyle skier Mac Bohonnon poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Bohonnon listens to rap music while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Long track speedskater KC Boutiette poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Boutiette listens to Eminem while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Long track speedskater Joey Mantia poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Mantia listens to "Work It Out" by Netsky while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Paralympic Snowboarder Evan Strong wears his gold medal from 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi as he poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to Reggae music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Paralympic snowboarder Brenna Huckaby poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. She listens to pop and rap music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Paralympic wheelchair curler Kirk Black poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to contemporary christian music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Paralympic hockey player Declan Farmer poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to hip hop music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Long track speedskater Joey Mantia poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Mantia listens to "Work It Out" by Netsky while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Cross-country skier Kikkan Randall poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Randall listens to Katy Perry and Lady Gaga while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Alpine skier Travis Ganong poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Ganong listens to reggae and rock music while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Freestyle skier Maggie Voison poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 26, 2017. She listens to pop and rap music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Figure skating pair Chris Knierim (L) and Alexa Scimeca Knierim pose for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 26, 2017. Chris listens to Metallica and Alexa listens to pop while they train. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure skating ice dancers Zach Donohue (L) and Madison Hubbell pose for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 26, 2017. Donohue listens to rock and electronic dance music while he trains and Hubbell listens to Paul Simon and The Who. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Alpine skier Steve Nyman poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 26, 2017. Nyman listens to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Ice hockey player Alex Rigsby poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 26, 2017. She listens to electronic dance music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Ice hockey player Meghan Duggan poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City Utah, U.S. September 26, 2017. She listens to Beyonce and Rihanna while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Ice hockey player Hilary Knight poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City Utah, U.S. September 26, 2017. She listens to pop and rap music while training . REUTERS/Mike Blake
Ice hockey player Brianna Decker poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City Utah, U.S. September 26, 2017. She listens to hip hop and country music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 26, 2017. Hendrickson listens to podcasts while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Rodchenkov is now in hiding, and participates in the U.S. government’s federal witness protection program. But Walden, a former federal prosecutor who now represents Rodchenkov, told Yahoo News he was recently informed by a U.S official that “you have to assume there are people here looking for him” and that there needed to be a “significant change” in the protocols for his security.

“It’s an incredibly tense situation,” Walden said. “If they get the opportunity, they will take him out.”

Walden declined to provide any more details or identify the U.S. government official that alerted him to the concerns about his client’s safety. But Walden said enhanced security measures have already been taken and he has not even been able to communicate with his client for more than a week. (He said, however, he has been assured of his safety.)  A spokesman for the FBI, which tracks Russian intelligence efforts in the United States and assists the U.S. Marshals Service in the witness protection program, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

The warning comes at a time when the Russian government of Vladimir Putin has ramped up its attacks on Rodchenkov. Prosecutors in Russia have filed criminal charges against him, accusing him of drug trafficking, and insisted he be returned by the U.S. government to Russia — a demand that is unlikely to be granted given that there is no extradition treaty between the two countries.

Putin, who greatly values his country’s Olympic program, weighed in on Rodchenkov’s fate during his annual end of the year press conference on Dec. 14. He suggested that the whistleblower was being drugged and manipulated by U.S. intelligence agencies.

16 PHOTOS
2018 Olympic torch lighting ceremony
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2018 Olympic torch lighting ceremony
Olympics - Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic Flame Pyeongchang 2018 - Ancient Olympia, Olympia, Greece - October 24, 2017 First torchbearer Greek cross country skiing athlete Apostolos Aggelis runs with the Olympic flame and an olive branch at the Pierre de Coubertin monument during the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
Olympics - Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic Flame Pyeongchang 2018 - Ancient Olympia, Olympia, Greece - October 24, 2017 Actors perform during the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics REUTERS/Costas Baltas
Olympics - Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic Flame Pyeongchang 2018 - Ancient Olympia, Olympia, Greece - October 24, 2017 Greek cross country skiing athlete Apostolos Aggelis runs with the flame during the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics REUTERS/Costas Baltas
Olympics - Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic Flame Pyeongchang 2018 - Ancient Olympia, Olympia, Greece - October 24, 2017 Greek actress Katerina Lehou, playing the role of High Priestess gives an olive branch to Greek cross country skiing athlete Apostolos Aggelis during the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics REUTERS/Costas Baltas
Olympics - Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic Flame Pyeongchang 2018 - Ancient Olympia, Olympia, Greece - October 24, 2017 Greek actress Katerina Lehou, playing the role of High Priestess and actresses carries the Olympic Flame during the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
Olympics - Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic Flame Pyeongchang 2018 - Ancient Olympia, Olympia, Greece - October 24, 2017 Actresses with the flame during the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics REUTERS/Costas Baltas
Olympics - Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic Flame Pyeongchang 2018 - Ancient Olympia, Olympia, Greece - October 24, 2017 Greek Presidential Guards arrive for the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
Olympics - Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic Flame Pyeongchang 2018 - Ancient Olympia, Olympia, Greece - October 24, 2017 Actresses during the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
Olympics - Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic Flame Pyeongchang 2018 - Ancient Olympia, Olympia, Greece - October 24, 2017 Actresses with the flame during the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
Olympics - Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic Flame Pyeongchang 2018 - Ancient Olympia, Olympia, Greece - October 24, 2017 Greek actress Katerina Lehou, playing the role of High Priestess and actresses with the flame during the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
Olympics - Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic Flame Pyeongchang 2018 - Ancient Olympia, Olympia, Greece - October 24, 2017 Greek actress Katerina Lehou, playing the role of High Priestess with the flame on the torch during the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
Olympics - Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic Flame Pyeongchang 2018 - Ancient Olympia, Olympia, Greece - October 24, 2017 Greek actress Katerina Lehou, playing the role of High Priestess passes the flame to Greek cross country skiing athlete Apostolos Aggelis during the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics REUTERS/Costas Baltas
Olympics - Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic Flame Pyeongchang 2018 - Ancient Olympia, Olympia, Greece - October 24, 2017 Greek cross country skiing athlete Apostolos Aggelis passes the flame to former South Korea footballer Park Ji-sung during the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
Olympics - Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic Flame Pyeongchang 2018 - Ancient Olympia, Olympia, Greece - October 24, 2017 Actresses during the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics REUTERS/Costas Baltas
Olympics - Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic Flame Pyeongchang 2018 - Ancient Olympia, Olympia, Greece - October 24, 2017 Former South Korea footballer Park Ji-sung holds the Olympic torch during the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
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Rodchenkov’s presence in the U.S. “is not a positive for us, it’s a negative,” Putin said. “It means he’s under the control of American special services. “What are they doing with him there?” Putin added. “Are they giving him some kind of substances so that he says what’s required?”

Concerns about Rodchenkov’s safety extend beyond the Russian president’s remarks, according to Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, a U.S.-funded nonprofit that has worked closely with Rodchenkov since he came to the United States. He noted that one top Russian Olympic official recently suggested that Rodchenkov deserved to be executed. “Rodchenkov should be shot for lying, like Stalin would have done,” Leonid Tyagachev, who was the head of the Russian Olympic Committee from 2001 to 2010 and remains its honorary president, said in remarks on a Russian radio station.

That threat was taken especially seriously in light of the unexplained deaths of two Russian Olympic officials last year who had worked with Rodchenkov, Tygart added. One of them, Nikita Kamayev, the former executive director of Rusada, Russia’s anti-doping agency, died in February 2016 from an apparent heart attack at the age of 52, reportedly after contacting a journalist offering to speak out about Russian doping. Just days earlier, Vyacheslav Sinev, Rusada’s former general director, also died of unknown causes.

“There are a lot of people who don’t want the truth exposed,” said Tygart. Speaking about the potential threats on Rodchenkov’s life, he added: “This is a serious issue and has to be taken seriously.”

Walden, Rodchenkov’s lawyer, says an additional cause for concern about his client’s welfare is the timing of the criminal charges filed by Russian prosecutors against Rodchenkov for drug trafficking, which came with a warrant for his arrest. It was, he said, the same day that Rodchenkov was taking part in a confidential interview with U.S. immigration authorities over his status in the United States. The fact that the Russians filed the arrest warrant that day, Walden said, suggested they may have been tipped off, and filed the criminal charges in order to undercut his application to remain in the U.S. by branding him a fugitive from Russian justice and demand his extradition, he said.

“That is a coincidence too remarkable to believe,” said Walden. “It seems fairly clear they were trying to influence the immigration process.”

Walden, in a statement he released to Yahoo News, said that Rodchenkov had disclosed “the single greatest conspiracy to cheat the Olympics” and called on the International Olympic Committee to demand that Russia stop its efforts to retaliate against him. If the Russians were to succeed in their efforts to have Rodchenov returned, he “would face death and torture at their hands.”

Rodchenkov’s role as the chief of the  Russia  anti-doping program — while secretly running an operation to help Russian athletes avoid detection for injecting banned substances —received widespread attention earlier this year with the release of “Icarus,” a Netflix documentary about the inadequacy of drug-testing programs in international sports. The film showed Rodchenkov instructing the filmmaker, an amateur bicyclist named Bryan Fogel, on how to inject himself with performance-enhancing drugs to boost his performance in a bicycle race in France — and how to swap urine samples in order to avoid detection.

Rodchenkov’s troubles began after a report in 2015 by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which found evidence of systematic doping among Russian track and field athletes. He was forced to resign, and, fearing for his safety, fled to the United States and began describing the scheme he helped run to Olympic authorities and other organizations — and to the media. Working with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the Russian spy agency formerly headed by Putin, Rodchenkov said he supervised a system in which urine samples were smuggled out of the storage room through a hole in the wall, secretly unsealed and their contents swamped, allowing athletes to take banned substances to avoid detection. After the Sochi Olympics, Rodchenkov was awarded a prestigious “Order of Friendship” medal by Putin.

Since coming to the U.S., Rodchenkov has continued to provide evidence about the Russian doping program, including turning over incriminating emails  and diaries to the World Anti-Doping Agency and other international investigators. Some of the emails suggested Russian officials had given banned steroids to blind powerlifters  in competitions for the disabled without the knowledge of the athletes.

“It’s a disgrace,” Rodchenkov wrote to an official at the Russian Sports Training Center, in one of the emails that has since been made public. The coaches were “picking on the blind [who] can’t even see what people are giving them.”

Walden said U.S. Justice Department investigators are also working with Rodchenkov, exploring possible racketeering charges against the Russian officials responsible for the country’s doping program. Some 33 Russian athletes had their medals revoked by the IOC and many of them are appealing that decision to the appellate body in Switzerland — a process for which Rodchenkov’s testimony is critical.

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South Korea plans for 2018 Olympics
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South Korea plans for 2018 Olympics
An ice sculpture of the Olympic rings is seen during the Pyeongchang Winter Festival, near the venue for the opening and closing ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
The Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre is seen in Pyeongchang, South Korea, October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
The Olympic Plaza, the venue for the opening and closing ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, is seen in Pyeongchang, South Korea, October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
A man walks past the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics mascot Soohorang and Paralympics mascot Bandabi at Phoenix Snow Park, the venue for Parallel Giant Slalom, Slopestyle, Moguls and Aerials, in Pyeongchang, South Korea, October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
Images of former winter olympic mascots are displayed on the wall of a house in the town on Hoenggye near the venue of the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic games, in Pyeongchang on October 31, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ed JONES (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
A general view shows the biathlon venue of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic games near the Alpensia resort in Pyeongchang on October 31, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ed JONES (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA - OCTOBER 30, 2017: A view of Alpensia Ski Jumping Stadium that is to host ski jumping events during the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Stanislav Varivoda/TASS (Photo by Stanislav Varivoda\TASS via Getty Images)
An aerial photo shows a general view of the bobsleigh and luge venues of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic games in Pyeongchang on October 31, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ed JONES (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
An aerial photo shows a general view of the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium venue of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic games, in the town of Hoenggye on October 31, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ed JONES (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
The mascot for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics Soohorang is seen during the Pyeongchang Winter Festival, near the venue for the opening and closing ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
An ice sculpture of the Olympic rings is seen during the Pyeongchang Winter Festival, near the venue for the opening and closing ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A photo taken on October 30, 2017 shows a general view of the Gangneung Hockey Centre ice hockey venue of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic games, in Gangneung. / AFP PHOTO / Ed JONES (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo taken on October 30, 2017 shows a general view of the Gangneung Oval speed skating venue of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic games, in Gangneung. / AFP PHOTO / Ed JONES (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA - OCTOBER 30, 2017: A view of the Pyeongchang 2018 logo by the Olympic Stadium. Stanislav Varivoda/TASS (Photo by Stanislav Varivoda\TASS via Getty Images)
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That has given the Russians new incentive for silencing Rodchenkov, Walden said. “If they can get him arrested or kill him,” Walden said, and his testimony is no longer available, the ban could be reversed.

Richard McLaren, a Canadian law professor who prepared a detailed report on Russian doping for the World Anti-Doping Agency based in large part on Rodchenkov’s evidence, said the Russian’s testimony is still critical in order to explain many of the entries in his diaries — a body of evidence about Russian doping that has not yet been fully explored.

“The Russians would like to shut [the investigations] down permanently, and the best way for them to do that is for him not to be around,” McLaren said. “The threat is real.”

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