Russia’s football team has been asked to take 44 drug tests in the run-up to Euro 2016, according to the squad’s official doctor.
Dr Eduard Bezuglov claims the tests were carried out by inspectors who visited the team camp on four separate occasions leading up to the start of the tournament. He has questioned whether squads from other nations in the competition have faced the same level of scrutiny.
The drug tests come in the wake of a doping scandal involving athletes from Russia. There is still uncertainty over whether the country’s track and field athletes will be allowed to take part in this summer’s Olympic Games in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro after they were given a temporary ban.
Dr Bezuglov told a French press conference that they had been asking themselves whether the Russian football team had been asked to take more drugs tests than other national squads.
He said: “All national teams are under the control of UEFA and FIFA, and before the group stages of the competition the Russian national team were already visited more than three times by doping control inspectors.
“First they inspected 10 people at a time, then on the fourth time, they just looked at four people. All this is happening at 7am, and these inspectors even broke a record once by coming at 6.30am.”
Doubts over fairness
Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s Sports Minister, said they had tried to be understanding and hoped that they were being treated fairly.
He said: “We don’t know whether this is the same for the other teams, and maybe they don’t get inspected that often; however, there is a hope that everybody is treated equally.”
And he stressed that there had never been a problem with doping in Russian football.
UEFA has confirmed that it is carrying out extensive drug testing at Euro 2016 to try and prevent players from taking any banned substances during the competition. But it would not reveal how many tests each team has been asked to take.
Drug testing is common in competitive sport and is carried out both at random and in response to allegations and intelligence. But this kind of testing is not restricted to athletes as many employers are also introducing workplace drug testing to deter their staff from using illegal substances and to help maintain health and safety and reduce absenteeism.