Russia's President Vladimir Putin has said widespread doping did take place in his country but denied state involvement ©Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the situation his country finds itself in regarding anti-doping "is our own fault because the doping abuse did take place" but he again denied the attempts to cheat the system were state-led.

According to Russian state news agency TASS, Putin made the comments during a press conference in which he also said the work in the fight against doping has been "enormous" and that in the battle against cheating Russia had "failed".

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) was suspended in 2015 when allegations of state sponsored doping emerged, while many athletes were barred from competing at Rio 2016.

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) were then suspended for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics earlier this year and forced to compete under a neutral banner by the International Olympic Committee.

The country was accused of widespread and systematic rule violations including swapping positive samples for clean ones at their home Sochi 2014 Winter Games.

Both suspensions against the ROC and RUSADA have now been lifted, with officials from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) finally gaining access to the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory this week to collect what is thought to be vital evidence.

Discussing the topic in his press conference, Putin appeared to admit widespread doping did occur, but denied any of it was state led.

"Firstly, it is our own fault to a great degree that we ended up in this situation," TASS quote him as saying.

"It is because the doping abuse did take place."

He added, though, "that some are trying to impose on us the idea that any cheating was run by the state".

World Anti-Doping Agency officials are currently in Moscow collecting data from RUSADA's anti-doping laboratory ©Getty Images
World Anti-Doping Agency officials are currently in Moscow collecting data from RUSADA's anti-doping laboratory ©Getty Images

"The other thing is that attempts are underway to impose a thesis on us that it was done at the state level, but this is not so - it has never been so and will never be so," he said.

"The work on the fight against doping has been enormous, but the problem is not solved completely."

Putin went on to add that the "organisations and state structures" put in place to fight doping in Russia had "failed".

"We must be thinking not only about results, which are interesting and important, but about the health of our athletes as well," he said.

"But since these facts did take place, we must admit them and say that it is our fault.

"It means we failed to properly organise the work on the fight against doping.

"This is the fault of organisations and state structures, which had to do it in the best way."

The WADA experts currently in Moscow are collecting data on doping sample analysis on Russian athletes from 2011 to 2015.

The data from the Laboratory Information Management System is thought to be crucial in the fight to catch more cheats.

As part of their reinstatement criteria, RUSADA were told they must grant access to the laboratory by December 31.

While that has now happened, critics fear any damning evidence that was once inside may have been either destroyed or tampered with.

In his press conference Putin said he hoped the visit could eradicate "the element of politicisation, which does exist" on the matter.