The Russian Football Federation’s team doctor has freely admitted that Russia players huffed on ammonia to boost their work rate during the World Cup.
This comes after German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) accused the Russians of “sniffing cotton balls doused in the chemical” to enhance their performances in games against Spain and Croatia.
“It is known to help improve athletic performance, by stimulating breathing and improving the flow of oxygen in the blood,” the paper claimed.
Turns out that SZ were absolutely bang on. However, the doctor in question, Dr Eduard Bezuglov, has also pointed out that ammonia is not an illegal substance, nor is it considered such by international doping authorities.
As quoted by Spanish paper AS, Dr Bezuglov told the Russia media:
We are talking about a simple ammoniac that you apply to buds of cotton wool and then inhale. Thousands of athletes do the same thing to give themselves a lift. It’s been in use for decades.
It is not only used in sport but also in everyday life when someone loses consciousness of feel dizzy because of the strong smell it gives off.
You can go to any pharmacy and buy ammonia and cotton buds. It does not constitute doping.
Smelling salts, basically.
It’s somewhere akin to getting all worked up about Russian footballers brazenly drinking dihydrogen monoxide when they’re uncomfortably warm and dehydrated.
Technically speaking, that’s still a ‘perform enhancing” substance, no?