Are Russia doping at the World Cup?
Anyone who has seen the documentary film Icarus – which details the incredible state sponsored doping of the Russian team at the 2014 Olympics on home soil – will be of little doubt that not everything is completely kosher at the ongoing World Cup.
Alarm bells were raised when Russia received the easiest group of all time (statistically) for hosting the 2018 World Cup.
After two games, there appears to be little doubt that this Russian side have certain advantages on the field of play.
And it isn’t just down to the boost hosts often receive from familiarity and the 12th man of home support.
Russia’s incredible start to the World Cup
Russia crushed Saudi Arabia in the opener 5-0. With president Vladimir Putin in the crowd, Russia stormed to victory against one of the weaker sides in the tournament.
This was followed up by a 3-1 win over Egypt and Mo Salah with the Russians once again seriously impressive.
These two games have shocked even Russian fans and close watchers of their national team. Since prior to the World Cup, Stanislav Cherchesov’s side were simply pretty useless.
Russia were expected to stink up their own World Cup, instead, after just two games, it appears to be a question of how far they can go.
Lest we forget, that before the win over Saudi Arabia, Russia had failed to win in eight matches. And, that victory was over South Korea, far from a good side on the evidence of the World Cup so far.
Excuse the pun above but there is an elephant in the room with regards to Russia at this World Cup.
The hosts, not known for their technical ability, or without any real world class players, ARE RUNNING MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE!
Yes, Russia are smashing records for running and looked hungry, alive and energetic in the final stages of both their games against Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
This is not just going on the eye test, but also statistically, in numbers published by FIFA: Russia are running further, faster and completing more sprints than any other side in the tournament.
Russia ran more in both their matches so far, than any other side at the World Cup.
More of a breakdown of the distance covered stats for the World Cup so far. Russia covering more distance, generally at faster speeds and completing more sprints than any other team so far… pic.twitter.com/LLnPCEZbTA
— Ian DW (@sportdw) June 21, 2018
FIFA are not going to deal with Russian doping at the World Cup
On Sunday, Nick Harris of the Mail on Sunday has produced another alarming report into alleged Russian doping at the World Cup.
Harris reveals that FIFA knew that Russia covered up a positive drug test from defender Ruslan Kambolov and did nothing about it.
Whilst FIFA admit they have been looking into this for a year, nothing has been done.
Meanwhile, Russia have produced the best ever start for a host team in a World Cup.
Nick Harris, a fine investigative journalist sums up the problem with potential Russian doping at this World Cup:
Would you trust FIFA on integrity issues: no.
Would you trust Russia on doping: no.
Are Russia doping at this World Cup: absolutely no proof of this.
Would you trust anything you see from them at this World Cup: no.
— Nick Harris (@sportingintel) June 23, 2018
What does alleged Russian doping mean for the World Cup betting markets?
Considering Russia’s woeful form coming into the World Cup, it seemed a surprise that the bookies felt they would ease out of Group A.
The odds on Russia to fail to qualify from Group A before the tournament were 9/4.
Now, Russia are 12th favourites to win the whole tournament at just 40/1.
Russia now find themselves at 3/1 to reach the quarter-finals and 8/1 to play in the semi-finals.
Will Russia outrun & beat Uruguay on Monday?
Meanwhile, on Monday, Russia face Uruguay in arguably their biggest World Cup test so far.
Russia are the underdogs to see off Uruguay – a fine side with crack strikers in Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez.
The hosts are 21/10 for the win. Whilst Uruguay are rated at 13/8.
Perhaps Russia will rest players for the knockout rounds but this will certainly be a fascinating game to watch as both sides vie for top spot in Group A.
Could Russia win an individual award at the World Cup?
Meanwhile, individual awards also seem possible for Russia in this World Cup.
With three goals to his name, Denis Cheryshev is 25/1 to win the Golden Boot.
Aleksandr Golovin, meanwhile, is 100/1 to win the Golden Ball, for the best player at the tournament.
Certainly, it is difficult to fully know whether everything is above board with this Russian side.
As a result, keep all the information above in mind when betting on Russia and games they are involved in.
You can be sure the bookies are well aware of the allegations, whispers and rumours, and have prepared accordingly.