Vladimir Putin has ordered an investigation into claims Russia’s athletes have been part of a systematic doping program.
The Russian president was speaking for the first time since a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) independent report recommended Russia be banned from athletics competition.
Vladimir Putin said athletes should be punished individually, rather than collectively.
“Sportsmen who don’t dope – and never have – must not answer for those who break the rules,” he said.
“If we find that someone must be held responsible for something of the sort that breaks the rules in place against doping, then the responsibility must be personalized – that’s the rule.”
Vladimir Putin also said he wanted “professional co-operation” with anti-doping bodies.
“The battle must be open,” he said.
“A sporting contest is only interesting when it is honest.”
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko had earlier said the UK’s anti-doping system had “zero value” and was “even worse” than Russia’s.
That accusation was rejected by the UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Vladimir Putin spoke only about the issues affecting Russia, saying someone must take responsibility should problems be found.
“I ask the minister of sport and all our colleagues who are linked in one way or another with sport to pay this issue the greatest possible attention,” he said, before a meeting sports officials in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
“It is essential that we conduct our own internal investigation and – I want to underline – provide the most open professional co-operation with international anti-doping structures.”
Sebastian Coe, president of athletics’ governing body, the IAAF, has told the Russian athletics federation to respond to WADA’s report by November 13.
The report’s author, Dick Pound, recommended Russian athletes be suspended from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
However, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said on November 11 his organization had “no authority” to take such action, and the matter was solely for the IAAF to deal with.
Thomas Bach also said the IOC would continue to apply a zero-tolerance policy to doping, and that Olympic medals would be withdrawn from any Russian athlete named in the WADA report who is found guilty of doping.