The former director of the Russian anti-doping laboratory said he followed government orders to cover up positive tests so soccer players could avoid being caught doping as part of a far-reaching conspiracy. Outlining his involvement to The Associated Press, Grigory Rodchenkov claimed an instruction to ‘‘avoid any scandal’’ came from then-sports minister Vitaly Mutko, who now serves as a deputy prime minister despite being at the center of the doping deception controversy across sports. Rodchenkov said through his lawyer from his hiding place in the United States that soccer players were "immune" from doping controls or sanctions. Rodchenkov fled Russia two years ago to confess to his role in a widespread doping cover-up in his homeland, notably at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and by track and field athletes. The focus is sharpening on doping practices in Russian soccer with the World Cup kicking off in Moscow in June. Amid mounting evidence of his role in the doping deception that turned his country into Olympic outcasts, Mutko recently stepped down as head of both Russia’s soccer federation and the World Cup organizing committee. While Mutko has been banned for life from the Olympics, he has not faced any footballing sanctions and continues to oversee World Cup preparations and sports policy in Russia. FIFA has only recently strived to obtain evidence relating to soccer from Rodchenkov, with particular suspicion around 34 cases identified by the World Anti-Doping Agency which are said to include members of the 2014 World Cup squad. Rodchenkov is skeptical about FIFA’s determination to uncover the extent performance-enhancing substances were used by Russian players and avoid punishment. FIFA said it has now submitted 59 ‘‘specific questions’’ to Rodchenkov through a lawyer designated by WADA.
Kvitova survives Wozniacki in Qatar
Petra Kvitova downed top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki for the fourth straight time to reach the Qatar Open final in Doha, extending her winning streak to 12 matches. The 16th-seeded Kvitova outlasted Wozniacki, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3), 7-5, and will play Garbine Muguruza in the final. Muguruza advanced when No. 2-ranked Simona Halep withdrew Friday because of a right foot injury. A win Sunday could lift the 21st-ranked Kvitova back inside the top 10, a notable feat for the two-time Wimbledon champion who once held the No. 2 spot. Kvitova took an extended break after being stabbed by a knife-wielding burglar at her home in December 2016 . . . A day after ensuring his return to the top of the rankings, top seed Roger Federer sealed a place in the final of the ABN AMRO World Tournament in Rotterdam, beating Andreas Seppi, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3). In Sunday’s final, Federer will try for his 97th career title against second seed Grigor Dimitrov, who advanced when fourth seed David Goffin retired after being hit in the left eye by a ball . . . Second-seeded Sam Querrey is in the New York Open final in Uniondale, after winning the last four games to beat No. 4 Adrian Mannarino, 6-7 (5-7), 7-5, 6-3. The American will face top-seeded Kevin Anderson, the US Open runner-up, in Sunday’s final. Anderson beat fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori, the tournament winner from 2013-16 when it was played in Memphis, Tenn., 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4) in the night match . . . Top seed Dominic Thiem defeated def. Gael Monfils, 6-2, 6-1, in the Argentina Open semifinals in Buenos Aires, where he will face Aljaz Bedene, a 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 winner over Federico Delbonis.
Twins get Odorizzi from Rays
The Twins acquired righthander Jake Odorizzi from the Rays for shortstop prospect Jermaine Palacios. Odorizzi went 10-8 with a 4.14 ERA in 28 starts for Tampa Bay last season. Palacios was Minnesota’s 27th-ranked prospect, per MLB Pipeline . . . The Rays acquired first baseman C.J. Cron from the Los Angeles Angels and designated outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. The 28-year-old Cron was acquired in exchange for a player to be named. He appeared in 100 games with 92 starts last season, hitting .248 with 16 homers and 56 RBIs . . . Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett won his salary arbitration case, being awarded a raise from $2,525,000 to $5.7 million. The Reds offered $5.1 million. Gennett hit .295 last year and set career bests with 27 homers and 97 RBIs in his first season with the Reds. He hit four homers in a game on June 6. Players finished with a winning arbitration record over clubs, 12-10, for the second time in three years, but only their fourth since 1996. The 22 decisions were the most since players went 14-10 in 1990. Just five players settled among the 27 who swapped proposed salaries with their teams last month . . . The Cleveland Indians signed free agent Rajai Davis to a minor league contract, bringing back the speedy outfielder who hit one of the biggest home runs in team history. Davis led the American League with 43 stolen bases for Cleveland in 2016. In Game 7 of the World Series, he hit a tying, two-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning off Aroldis Chapman before the Indians lost in the 10th to the Chicago Cubs. Oakland traded Davis to Boston at midseason last year, when he hit a combined .235 with stole 29 bases.
Kynard wins fifth straight US Indoor high jump title
Erik Kynard won his record fifth straight high jump title at the USA Indoor track and field championships in Albuquerque with a height of 7 feet, 6½ inches, but failed to reach the minimum standard required for an invitation to the United States squad for the world indoor championships March 1-4 in Birmingham, England. When he failed to clear 7-7¾, Kynard ripped off his number and spiked the cross bar in frustration. Daniella Hill took the women’s shot put after a winning mark of 59-4¼. Shelby Houlihan won the women’s 3,000 meters in 9 minutes, 0.08 seconds with a strong kick. In the men’s 3,000, Paul Chelimo defended his championship from a year ago in 7:57.88 . . . Los Angeles Lakers forward Channing Frye had an appendectomy Friday in Cleveland. The team said he will be evaluated after he returns to Los Angeles next weekend. Frye was spending the All-Star break in Ohio with his family. The Cavaliers traded him to the Lakers on Feb. 8 along with Isaiah Thomas in exchange for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.. Frye, who has played one game for the Lakers, is averaging 4.8 points and 2.4 rebounds this season . . . Southern California men’s basketball forward Bennie Boatwright will miss the rest of the season after injuring his left knee against Oregon on Thursday. The school said Boatwright will be sidelined several months although surgery is not expected. The junior was averaging 13.6 points and 6.4 rebounds, both second on the team., and is 22 points away from 1,000 in his career . . . A team spokesman said Duke forward Marvin Bagley III will miss his third straight game Sunday at No. 11 Clemson with a sprained right knee. The freshman, who leads the Atlantic Coast Conference with averages of 21.2 points and 11.4 rebounds, was hurt in Duke's loss to North Carolina on Feb. 8 . . . Center Nathan MacKinnon will return to the Colorado Avalanche lineup Sunday against visiting Edmonton after missing eight games with an upper-body injury . . . According to reports, former NHL defenseman Greg Smyth died Friday at the age of 51. He had been previously diagnosed with cancer. Drafted in the second round (22nd overall) in 1984 by Philadelphia, Smyth tallied four goals and 16 assists in 229 games over 10 seasons with the Flyers, Quebec Nordiques, Calgary Flames, Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Chicago Blackhawks . . . British boxer George Groves (28-3) retained the WBA super middleweight belt after outsmarting fellow countryman Chris Eubank Jr. (26-2) for a unanimous decision in Manchester, England.