Vladimir Putin has ordered an investigation into allegations that Russian athletes were part of a systematic doping program.
The Russian president is speaking for the first time since an independent report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recommended that Russia ban the athletics competition.
Vladimir Putin said athletes should be punished individually, not collectively.
“Athletes who do not use drugs – and never are – should not be held accountable for those who break the rules.” he said.
“If we find that someone has to be responsible for something that violates the anti-doping rules, then the responsibility has to be personalized – that’s the rule.”
Vladimir Putin also said he wanted “professional cooperation” with anti-doping authorities.
“The battle must be open” he said.
“Sports are only interesting when it’s fair.”
Earlier, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said Britain’s anti-doping system was “zero in value” and “even worse” than Russia’s.
This accusation was rejected by the Ministry of Culture, Media and Sports of the United Kingdom.
Vladimir Putin spoke only about the problems affecting Russia, saying that someone should take responsibility if problems are found.
“I ask the Minister of Sports and all our colleagues who are involved in one way or another in sports to pay as much attention as possible to this issue.” he said before meeting with sports officials in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
“It is extremely important that we conduct our internal investigation and – I want to emphasize – ensure the most open professional cooperation with international anti-doping structures.”
Sebastian Coe, president of the IAAF’s governing body for athletics, told the Russian Athletics Federation to respond to the WADA report by November 13.
The author of the report, Dick Pound, recommended that Russian athletes be removed from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
However, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, said on November 11 that his organization “has no authority” to take such action and that the issue is only to deal with the IAAF.
Thomas Bach also said that the IOC will continue to pursue a policy of zero tolerance for doping and that Olympic medals will be withdrawn by any Russian athlete listed in the WADA report who is found guilty of doping.