Putin orders action over explosive doping claims


Vladimir Putin Wednesday ordered an inquiry into allegations of "state-supported" drug abuse in athletics that have left Russia facing a possible Olympics ban, but insisted any punishment should be individual and not collective.

At a meeting of the country's sports chiefs, the Russian president said they must do everything they could to stamp out doping, following the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) bombshell report.

The report by an independent commission outlined systematic doping in Russian athletics and large-scale corruption reaching up to government levels and there have been calls for Russia to be banned from all athletics competitions.

"We must do everything in Russia to rid ourselves of this problem," Putin said in footage shown on Russian television of the meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, which hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics.

"We must carry out our own internal inquiry," Putin said, telling Russian sports officials to show "the most open and professional cooperation with international anti-doping authorities".

"This problem does not exist only in Russia, but if our foreign colleagues have questions, we must answer them," he said.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is due to meet in Monaco on Friday to discuss whether to suspend Russia from international competition -- including next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Russia's Olympic Committee issued a plea to IAAF chief Sebastian Coe not to sacrifice the dreams of clean competitors, a stance reiterated by Putin -- himself a keen sportsman.

"If someone breaks the rules on doping, the responsibility should be individual," the Kremlin leader said.

"Athletes who have never touched doping should not pay for those who have transgressed."

Russia, accused by WADA of "sabotaging" the last Olympic Games, finished fourth in the medals table at London 2012.

WADA accused the head of Russia's anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, of being at the heart of a scheme to cover up widespread use of illegal drugs among Russian athletes, including deliberately destroying positive test samples.

Rodchenkov resigned on Tuesday.