Former Arsenal forward Andrey Arshavin has caused a considerable stir in Russia by claiming that some sports are "simply impossible without doping."
Currently seeing out his career in Kazakhstan with FC Kairat, Arshavin made the claim in an interview with national news outlet Prosport. He suggested that sports with repetitive movements such as cycling, swimming, skiing and biking were particularly difficult without performance enhancement, and that athletes would struggle to succeed without PEDs.
Asked about doping in Russia more generally, he said: "Though it's angered a lot of people, in my opinion, there's doping in all repetitive sports. It is simply impossible to succeed without doping. I think everyone dopes."
He added that doping is less prevalent in team sports, in his experience. "In football and hockey it happens to a lesser extent," he said. "I say that stuff about repetitive sports because they are easier to calculate, and everything goes in cycles. In football, things are much harder to predict."
With Russia's track and field athletes banned from competing at Rio 2016 owing to evidence of systematic, state-sponsored doping, some might consider Arshavin's comments a little too close to home. However, he went on to claim that Russia's treatment has been, in part, politically motivated, contrasting their fortunes with that of the USA.
"Russia pays for its political decisions in the world of sport," he said. "Is it unfair? Life is always unfair, and we all have our own subjective judgement. Of course, it's a great tragedy for the athletes involved."
He went on to suggest that Russia was not alone in having a doping problem. "The Americans are very advanced," he added. "The question is: who is caught and who is not caught?"