10th July 2018

Russian team used smelling salts during 2018 World Cup games

Team doctor Eduard Bezuglov (Безуглов Эдуард) has admitted that the Russian football team used smelling salts during its World Cup matches. “This is common ammonia, which is moistened in cotton wool and breathed in”, he told Sport.ru. “This is done by thousands of athletes to perk them up […] It has nothing to do with doping.” German newspaper Bild had questioned why the Russian team had been filmed rubbing their noses during matches.

Advert for an Ammonia Inhalant, or smelling salts…

Ammonia inhalants (AIs – or smelling salts), are not prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Code, but are advertised by sports supplement companies as improving performance (see picture on right). They are widely used in powerlifting, and the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) Technical Rules Book states: ‘A lifter shall not wrap, adjust his costume or use ammonia within view of the public’ (page 25).  The IPF is a Code signatory.

Studies indicate that powerlifters believe that use of AIs improves performance. However two separate studies (here and here) concluded that use of AIs does not improve performance in powerlifting. 

“Ammonia acts as a stimulant, delaying fatigue, and is very powerful”, anti-doping expert Dr. Fritz Sörgel of the Institute for Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Research in Nürnberg told Bild. “Summing up its effects, it fits the definition of doping and I think it should be banned”.

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