Putin suggests United States drugged whistleblower who exposed Russia's Olympic doping regime

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"He is under the control and the protection of the Federal Bureau of Investigation".

Testimony from Rodchenkov played a key role in International Olympic Committee investigations which led last week to Russian athletes being required to compete under a neutral flag at the upcoming Pyeongchang Games.

The WADA Independent Commission chose to launch its investigation a year ago following media reports based on testimony from a former head of Moscow anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov.

Rodchenkov, former head of the Moscow Laboratory, left Russian Federation and is now part of a witness protection programme in the US. "It means he's under the control of American special services", Putin said.

The whistleblower has been living in the USA under witness protection.

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"What are they doing to him?"

"Whatever they say, I am convinced, I just know that's the case", Putin said. He said his crowning achievement came at the 2014 Games, held in the Russian town of Sochi, when he found a way to unseal and reseal supposedly tamper-proof bottles containing athletes' urine samples for drug testing. Shortly thereafter, a pair of former colleagues from Russia's anti-doping agency unexpectedly died.

Putin added that Rodchenkov should never have been appointed to run Moscow's anti-doping laboratory in the first place.

"This is the mistake of those who made the decision, and I know very well who made the decision". "We respect the worldwide sports federations and, the World Anti-Doping Agency and most of all the global Olympic Committee, where we have many friends".

"I know who did this, but what's the use of talking about it now", the Russian president said. "We will be forced to help our athletes to stand up for their honour and dignity in civil courts", he said.

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Rodchenkov went on to detail a doping operation that employed the services of Russian agents and boosted the results of dozens of the country's athletes in a variety of sports.

Biathlon Canada will not be competing in IBU Cup and World Cup events in Russian Federation scheduled for March in protest of the state-sponsored doping scandal in the country.

Putin also claimed that the appointed of Rodchenkov as head of the Moscow Laboratory was a "mistake".

"We are also to blame".

Russia has been banned from next year's Winter Olympics over allegations of state-sponsored doping but the International Olympic Committee has said Russian athletes would still be able to compete under a neutral flag.

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