Vladimir Putin: Russian president wants doping investigation

Vladimir Putin and Vitaly Mutko
Vladimir Putin and Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko visited a sports club in Sochi on Wednesday

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered an investigation into claims the country's athletes have been part of a systematic doping programme.

He was speaking for the first time since a World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) independent report recommended Russia be banned from athletics competition.

Putin said athletes should be punished individually, rather than collectively.

"Sportsmen who don't dope - and never have - must not answer for those who break the rules," he said.

"If we find that someone must be held responsible for something of the sort that breaks the rules in place against doping, then the responsibility must be personalised - that's the rule."

Putin said he wanted "professional co-operation" with anti-doping bodies.

"The battle must be open," he said. "A sporting contest is only interesting when it is honest."

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko had earlier said Britain's anti-doping system had "zero value" and was "even worse" than Russia's.

That accusation was rejected by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

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Putin spoke only about the issues affecting Russia, saying someone must take responsibility should problems be found.

"I ask the minister of sport and all our colleagues who are linked in one way or another with sport to pay this issue the greatest possible attention," he said, before a meeting sports officials in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

"It is essential that we conduct our own internal investigation and - I want to underline - provide the most open professional co-operation with international anti-doping structures."

Lord Coe, president of athletics' governing body, the IAAF, has told the Russian athletics federation to respond to Wada's report by Friday.

The report's author, Dick Pound, recommended Russian athletes be suspended from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

But International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said on Wednesday his organisation had "no authority" to take such action, and the matter was solely for the IAAF to deal with.

Bach said the IOC would continue to apply a zero-tolerance policy to doping, and that Olympic medals would be withdrawn from any Russian athlete named in the Wada report who is found guilty of doping.

"We have a proven track record," said Bach. "We will protect clean athletes."

Analysis from BBC sports news correspondent Richard Conway
That's a very clear message from Putin to the IAAF not to issue a suspension that would see all Russian athletes excluded from competition.
Of course, that plea ignores the overwhelming evidence that the Wada report commissioners uncovered of "state-supported" doping.
But the IAAF is under huge pressure to act tough - Putin's message is essentially that his country does understand the gravity of the situation.
With the Olympics looming next summer they recognise the need to rehabilitate. But they want to do that while still competing, not from the sidelines.

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