Craig Ross might have been the architect behind getting the rowing world championships back to Lake Karapiro for the first time in 32 years, but Rowing New Zealand (RNZ) did not invite him to attend the event.

The former RNZ chief executive was convicted of two counts of fraud in July 2008 and fined $10,000 for forging documents to elicit almost $370,000 worth of charitable grants.

None were for personal gain. Ross eventually had the convictions and fine overturned, provided he paid $15,000 towards prosecution costs.

The irony is RNZ would not be in the same position of strength today without Ross' efforts. Those grants helped buy Italian Filippi skiffs - the fastest boats then available - which saw the Evers-Swindell twins win Olympic gold in Beijing by 0.01s, cementing their place as national sporting greats. The men's pair of Nathan Twaddle and George Bridgewater also took bronze in one of the Italian boats.

Ross relentlessly championed New Zealand's world championship hosting after the Kiwis won four golds at Gifu in 2005. The reward was forthcoming in June the following year, when Lake Karapiro was named 2010 host. Ross then continued working at the world governing body FISA's offices to learn the requirements of the job. Sadly, Ross shares less enthusiasm for the sport now. He remains a supporter of the athletes' cause, but is otherwise reluctant to comment.

"I don't want to re-visit the past; this is a party for other people now. My job was to get the champs here and I was humbled to get a call from FISA director Matt Smith when he arrived in the country the other day to say 'you just need to know the championships are here because of your vision'.

"I told him I wasn't coming across [to the lake] because the whole thing is a bit hurtful. But then Geoff Blampied the CEO of [long-term sponsor] AON sent me tickets, which is more than Rowing New Zealand has done."

Thanks to Blampied, Ross returned to Karapiro yesterday - he felt showing his face might help the healing process.

"There are deep scars, but I wouldn't be talking to you if what I went through was for self gain. The fact is I stuffed up, but there were circumstances behind why I did it. You can clearly say I cheated to get the best for the athletes. I sometimes wake up at night thinking about it, but I did what I had to. If others want to call me a fraudster, so be it."

Ross has instead diverted his interests away from rowing. He and wife Sue are now beekeepers. They own apiaries and a honey-extraction business based predominantly in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty. Ross says it was the only way they could move on to control their destiny.

"We bought around 1000 beehives and fortunately got four experienced beekeepers with it. We also operate a manuka honey manufacturing plant. I did my due diligence and the industry is taking off, so we've rolled our sleeves up, shoved our heads into beehives occasionally and got the odd sting, but we're loving it."

Ross is used to the odd sting since he was called home early from the Munich world championships in August 2007 to face his accusers.

"We had to move on after a couple of years of hell, but it has helped cleanse our souls. We're accountable to ourselves and don't have to put up with any crap from bureaucrats. More importantly, we're making good money."

The business extracts 50 tonnes of manuka honey a year. In December they shift the hives into manuka-filled areas of the King Country's rural backblocks near Taumarunui, where Ross says his estimated 25 million workers get cracking.

"The best thing is none of those employees [the bees] can make a grievance claim against you," Ross jokes.

Ross says his family, which includes children Danielle, Brad and Nick, have been vital.

"They have been so bloody important to take your mind off other things. They've given Sue and I a lot of joy."

Ross has also had support from elite athletes, coaches and parents but admits to limited contact with the hierarchy. He can understand why they wanted to distance themselves.

"In the end it was important for me to move on. I still hurt a bit seeing the things being achieved at Rowing New Zealand, knowing I helped put the blocks in place.

"But [world championships chief executive] Tom Mayo's done a brilliant job rolling out the blueprint we put in place.

"I'm so proud of the way the New Zealand team is performing.

"Years ago, we said we wanted to be the best performing nation in the world and that is close to being achieved."