- The Washington Times - Monday, April 29, 2013

The Olympic head in charge of prepping Russia for 2014 games, but then was fired and condemned by President Vladimir Putin’s for cost overruns, now says he’s been poisoned.

The U.K. Guardian reported that Akhmed Bilalov, who was fired in February from his leadership post at the Russian Olympic Committee and subsequently fled the country, said doctors found unusual levels of mercury in his blood.

“They have found elevated levels of mercury in my body,” he said, The Guardian reported. “I didn’t want to announce this before, but now that the press has found out, I’m forced to confirm it.”

Mr. Bilalov had been leading the efforts to prepare Sochi for the 2014 games, but faced construction delays that led to huge cost increases. Mr. Putin blamed Mr. Bilalov, stripped him of his posts and criticized him publicly. The video of Mr. Putin’s criticism went viral, and Mr. Bilalov left the country.

Now Mr. Bilalov said he thought the mercury was put in his Moscow office. The Guardian reported he said he “began to feel bad in the middle of autumn last year” and went for treatment. Other employees at the office have been going to the doctor for blood tests, The Guardian reported.

He stopped short of blaming Russian government officials for purposely poisoning him, however.

“I don’t want to blame anyone or speculate on how the mercury appeared in my Moscow office,” Mr. Bilalov said, in The Guardian. “I have no idea. Upon returning to Moscow, I plan to approach law enforcement agencies so they can help sort out this situation.”

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