Russian President Vladimir Putin has directed his country's envoys to seek changes in international doping rules that have led to Russia's banishment from major world sporting events since 2015.
In one of his first orders since winning a fourth term in a landslide, Putin said on March 20 that the Foreign Ministry should try to alter the key treaty underpinning anti-doping work worldwide.
He said Russian diplomats working with UNESCO should aim to "refine" the existing International Convention against Doping in Sport so that "the rules are fair and absolutely transparent."
The UNESCO treaty is the basis for the global drug-testing system led by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which has accused Russia of running a state-sponsored doping program in dozens of sports.
WADA's charges against Russia have led to hundreds of its athletes being banned from the last Summer and Winter Olympics, as well as world championships in athletics and other major events.
Putin, who has denied any state involvement in Russian doping, made his comments at a March 20 awards ceremony for Russian athletes from the Paralympics, who were the latest group of Russian athletes required to compete as "Neutral Paralympic Athletes" rather than as a Russian team in punishment for what the International Paralympic Committee said was widespread doping in previous years.
The United Nations treaty Putin wants to change was adopted in 2005 and requires the 187 signatories, including Russia, to allow no-notice testing of athletes and follow other anti-doping rules laid down by WADA.
Countries can propose amendments at a conference on the treaty that is held every two years in Paris. The last such conference was in September.
Putin's comments, as reported by Russian state news agencies, didn't say exactly what changes he wants to make in world doping rules.
The only notable suggestion he has voiced publicly is to tighten the rules on "therapeutic use" exemptions for athletes, which allow them to use otherwise-banned drugs if they have a medical need.
Putin has argued such exemptions are abused by athletes from other countries, though some leading Russians have also obtained therapeutic exemptions.
Putin said his government will continue to "defend the sporting honor of our country and its clean athletes, [and] stand up for sport without politics or double standards."