For the first time since allegations of state-sponsored doping in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics emerged in 2016, Putin admitted Tuesday that Russian athletes have not been entirely clean.
It is partly Russia’s “own fault” for being under scrutiny for doping, he said, adding “After all, there were instances of doping use."
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) banned Russia from competition following revelations of widespread state-sponsored doping.
Grigory Rodchenkov, the source of the claims, told German TV Monday that Putin had ordered the conspiracy.
"Of course it came all the way from the top, from the president," Rodchenkov claimed. "Because only the president can deploy the domestic secret service FSB for such a special task."
Putin did not specifically comment on the latest allegations by Rodchenkov, but dismissed him as an "idiot."
“They’ve got this idiot [Grifory] Rodchenkov,” Putin said, apparently referring to the US, where Rodchenkov has fled. “Everything is based on testimony of this man ... Can he even be trusted?”
Rodchenkov is the former head of Moscow's anti-doping laboratory. He fled to the United States in 2016 following the sudden death of two of his senior collegues. He is now wanted by investigtors in Russia.
Competing in Winter Olympics
Neither the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) nor the International Olympic Committee have linked Putin to orchestrating the system of state-sponsored doping and Putin said Russia will continue to work with international sports institutions.
Meanwhile, some 30 Russian athletes have been allowed to compete as neutrals in next month's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, in South Korea.
For those who have been rejected, Putin pledged to support them both "materially and morally".