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Russian Olympics Panel Supports Harsh Punishment For Dopers

Russia's National Olympic Committee (NOC), facing allegations of an extensive system of state-sponsored doping, says it will cooperate in the fight against performance-enhancing drugs and supports harsh punishment for offenders.

But it also says a ban of its entire team would hurt clean athletes.

The November 11 statement contrasts with angry denials from other Russian sports officials a day after the International Olympics Committee said it was ready to strip medals from Russian athletes found guilty of doping.

The Russian Olympic Committee said: "Anyone caught using prohibited substances as well as anyone directly or indirectly assisting in their use is subject to disqualification. If guilt is proven, the penalties should be harsh."

But it echoed earlier comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said Olympics authorities should not ban all Russians, as some have suggested.

Russia's Olympic Committee said the rights of "honest athletes in international sports competition" must be protected.

Based on reporting by dpa, AFP, AP, and Reuters