Vladimir Putin blasts ban on Russian athletes caught doping as 'unjust and unfair'
Vladimir Putin has claimed it is "unjust and unfair" that the ban on Russian athletes imposed for systemic doping was upheld by the sport's governing body - ruling out the country competing in track and field at the Rio Olympics.
Despite desperate attempts by Russia to get the ban lifted before the games in August, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) voted on Friday unanimously against lifting the prohibition.
Reacting to the news publicly for the first time, the Russian president told a press conference in St Petersburg: "Of course that is unjust and unfair.
"There are universally recognised principles of law and one of them is that the responsibility should be always personified - if some of the members of your family have committed a crime, would it be fair to hold all the members of the family liable including you? That is not how it's done."
"The people who have nothing to do with violations, why should they suffer for those who committed the violations? That actually does not go into the framework of civilised behaviour."
Russia's track and field team was banned from competing after a World Anti-Doping Agency report found evidence of a state-sponsored doping ring that it said sabotaged the 2012 London Olympics.
But Mr Putin insisted the government is trying to crack down on doping, and was not behind it.
He said: "We feel indignation ourselves when we face the problems of doping and we try to cut this and punish the culprits. But the so-called clean athletes, why should they suffer? That is not understandable to me.
"I hope that we will be able to find some solution here, but of course that does not mean we are going to be offended and say we are not going to fight doping. No. We will make the doping fight fiercer."
Belfast Telegraph Digital