If you received this information from the professor, this is your defense. As a student, while you are supposed to be familiar with research rules and approvals, the supervising professor who was advising on the project is ultimately responsible for advising you properly and to follow the rules. Thus, your defense here is that you presented this to the professor who advised you the approval or exemption was not required by the IRB and as such you should not be penalized for following the instructions provided by your advisor. In most all cases, where there has been an admission and an apology and you did indeed get this advice from your advising professor who is responsible for properly supervising you, no drastic sanctions are generally imposed.
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