AFP Saint Petersburg, Russia
Jun 18, 2016, 04.18 AM
President Vladimir Putin on Friday condemned as "unfair" the International Associations of Athletic Federations' decision to extend a ban on the doping-tainted Russian athletics federation, saying he hoped a solution could be found to allow "clean" athletes to compete in the Olympic Games.
"Of course it's unfair," Putin said during a meeting with journalists.
"I'm assuming that we'll have a discussion with our colleagues in the World Anti-Doping Agency and I hope a reaction from the International Olympic Committee," he said of a decision which will prevent Russian athletes from competing in the Rio Olympics in August.
Putin was speaking after the IAAF Council voted unanimously in Vienna to extend a ban on the Russian athletics federation from international competition, but left the door ajar for some track and field stars to compete in the Rio Games as neutrals.
"Responsibility must always be individual and those who have no connection with these violations should not suffer," said the Russian president who, even before the announcement of the decision, had denied all allegations of "organised stage doping" by Russia.
"We ourselves are outraged when we're faced with doping problems, and we work to ensure that those guilty are punished. But the clean athletes, as they say, why should they suffer? I really don't understand," said Putin.
"I hope we find a solution, but that does not mean that we're going to be offended and say that we're not going to fight against doping. On the contrary, we're going to strengthen our fight against doping."
The IAAF imposed the initial ban on Russia in November over state-sponsored doping and mass corruption, and first extended it in March on the grounds that the criteria set for reinclusion had not been met.
Russia has over the past few months attempted to convince the IAAF that they are conforming to WADA requirements and deserve to return to the world athletics fold.
In recent weeks, Russia has announced the introduction of new anti-doping measures, and recruited "50 foreign specialists" to tighten controls for athletes wishing to participate in the Olympics.
"For the past six months, samples of our athletes have been analysed by foreign specialists. And these samples were analysed in foreign laboratories. Should we not trust them?" asked Putin.
In a damning verdict, the IAAF said on Friday that the Russian federation was "at least 18-24 months away from returning to full operational compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code".