Russian former Arsenal footballer claims cycling 'simply impossible without doping'

Andrey Arshavin said that all sports that involved repetitive movement must be dependent on performance enhancing drugs

Andrey Arshavin (WikiCommons)

A Russian footballer who played in the English Premier League for more than four years has claimed that competitors in all sports involving repetitive movement, including cycling, must be doping.

Andrey Arshavin, who played for Arsenal between 2009 and 2013, is reported to have said that cyclists can not compete without the aid of performance enhancing drugs, as well as claiming that the decision to ban certain Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics as a result of the damning McLaren report was fuelled by politics.

Arshavin apparently told "In my opinion, all cyclic sports are doping. It's simply impossible without doping. That means swimming, skiing, cycling. I think everyone dopes."

>>> Coach names two of three Russian cyclists barred from Olympics for possible doping offences

He added that doping wasn't rife in team sports, this despite rugby players being the most common athlete currently banned by the UK Anti-Doping.

"[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 said.

Arshavin, who has previously written a book called 555 Questions and Answers on Women, Money, Politics and Football, also appeared to suggest that he sympathised with those who dope, citing limited opportunities to improve their financial state.

"For them [non-footballers], 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."

He added that the consequences of the McLaren report which unearthed a regime of systematic doping in Russia, including making 26 positive cycling tests disappear, was influenced by politics.

"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," he said.

Chris Marshall-Bell

Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.

Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.