With Russia gripped by accusations of doping, former Arsenal midfielder Andrey Arshavin has suggested all athletes competing in certain Olympic sports take performance-enhancing drugs.
In an interview apparently conducted by a Kazakh sports news site, the outspoken Arshavin was quoted as saying that athletic success in "cyclic sports" — those that require constant repetitive movement — was "simply impossible without doping."
Arshavin's comments come amid the ongoing scandal in Russia that has seen some of the country's athletes banned from the Olympic Games following accusations of state-sponsored doping.
He also claims that politics played a role in the decision to bar the country from competing in some disciplines in Rio de Janeiro.
"In my opinion, all cyclic sports are doping. It's simply impossible without doping. That means swimming, skiing, cycling. I think everyone dopes," he told prosportkz.kz. "Russia is paying for its political decisions, including in sport. Is it fair or unfair? Life isn't fair. Of course, this is a great tragedy for the athletes, especially the Olympians.
"For them, this is the World Cup and European Championship for footballers. We have every two years, with good players, earning good money at clubs, and they have the reverse. [They have] almost one or two chances in life to get an apartment, a normal premium. … Of course I understand them, they are not in the best condition now."
Russian officials have consistently denied any state involvement in doping cover-ups and strenuously refute the findings of the McLaren Report, which claimed that the Russian secret service and sports ministry colluded to manipulate samples at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
Russian athletes escaped a blanket ban from the Rio games, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) allowing individual sports federations to determine who should be eligible to compete. Meanwhile, Russian authorities are currently contesting a similar ban for the Paralympic Games.
But while claiming that some sports are riddled with widespread doping, Arshavin — a former Arsenal playmaker who currently plies his trade with Kairat Almaty in Kazakhstan — insists that in team sports things are different.
"[There is doping] in football and hockey — to a lesser extent. In football, you cannot predict. In team sports, there's very little doping," he added.