Belfast Telegraph

Russia boss dismisses hosts' doping speculation

By Matt Slater

Russia's impressive running statistics at the World Cup are based on hard work and motivation, not thanks to doping, national team coach Stanislav Cherchesov has insisted.

The 54-year-old was speaking to reporters before today's Group A decider between Uruguay and Russia in Samara, with both teams already certain of knockout football after beating Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Russia came into the tournament on a terrible run of form and with a FIFA ranking of 70th - the lowest ever for a host nation at a World Cup - but eight goals in two games have seen Cherchesov's men stroll into the last 16.

A team playing well in a tournament at home is hardly news but the fact that Russia's players have covered more ground and made more sprints than any other team has raised eyebrows, largely because of Russian sport's recent record of endemic doping.

When a Russian journalist asked Cherchesov about the stats, he made three points: there is more to the team than running, his players were very fit at last summer's Confederations Cup and are now even stronger and they have the twin "motivations" of playing at a World Cup and doing so in front of their own fans.

"Here are the A, B, Cs of why we are doing something better than the other teams here for the time being," he said.

However, when asked by a British journalist how many times his team have been drug-tested he refused to answer, saying he was here to talk about the match and he was a coach, not a doctor.

Uruguay vs Russia

Group A:

Samara Arena, Today, 3.00 pm

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