By Jack Beresford
Russia’s impressive run to the last eight of the World Cup may not have all been the result of grit, determination and good old-fashioned teamwork.
This is according to claims emanating in Germany that the Russians may have, in fact, inhaled performance-enhancing substances to spur them on.
As per the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper (via MARCA), it is alleged that Russia players sniffed ammonia to improve their performances.
The report points to a spokesperson for the Russian Federation, who told the Bavarian news source that the Russia substitutes “sniffed cotton balls doused in the chemical” before entering the game against Spain.
“The Russian Federation acted as if it were something as common as using shampoo in the shower,” the Süddeutsche Zeitung story states.
They were also spotted doing the same thing against Croatia, with several players spotted rubbing their noses during the quarter-final clash.
It can’t have been that effective though, as Russia ended up losing on penalties to their beloved European neighbours.
In any case, it doesn’t really matter if they did huff cotton balls or otherwise, as ammonia is not classed as an illegal substance under international anti-doping regulations.
It does, however, have a reputation for aiding athletic performance through the stimulation of breathing, improving the oxygen flow in the blood as a result.
It’s not the first time Russia has faced these accusations, with Bild also launching similar claims that the nose-rubbing seen on television was tantamount to a smoking pistol.
What could the German sporting press possibly be so het up about, we wonder?