Russian winger Denis Cheryshev, who went from bench substitute to four-goal scorer at this summer’s World Cup in his home country, is under investigation by Spain’s anti-doping agency, according to multiple reports including the BBC and ESPN.
The 27-year-old is reportedly under investigation by the Spanish anti-doping agency AEPSAD for the use of human growth hormone (HGH) after his father Dimitri told a Russian media outlet that his son was taking HGH. The use of HGH without an exemption would be a violation of the anti-doping rules and could lead to a four-year ban.
Dimitri Cheryshev had initially told Russian publication Sport Weekend that his son was taking HGH to treat an injury, but later attempted to clarify his remarks to say he meant vitamin “growth factor” and that his quotes were misinterpreted. Denis Cheryshev missed most of both the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons due to persistent injuries. A hamstring injury nagged him throughout the the 2015/16 campaign with both Real Madrid and Valencia, limiting him to just 7 La Liga appearances that year, eventually needing surgery in May which kept him out of Euro 2016. He made just 11 appearances for Villareal in 2016/17 due to constant muscle problems.
“We have opened an investigation to get more information regarding this case,” an AEPSAD spokesman said to ESPN. “We are investigating the case in collaboration with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency and we are in contact with the World Anti-Doping Agency. This case has emerged following the comments made by the player, Cheryshev, and his father. We want to know more information. We have started the process but it’s still early to draw conclusions. We don’t know how long this case will take.”
According to the Telegraph, the Russian Football Union has claimed Cheryshev received platelet-rich plasma injection, which is legal. They also accused the journalist in the initial Sport Weekend story of misquoting Dimitri, and while the newspaper claimed the quote was correct, they also corroborated the father’s claim that he meant “growth factor” claiming he even referred to the treatment as such later in the interview.
Cheryshev was not expected to play a significant part in Russia’s World Cup plans, but when he came off the bench for an injured Alan Dzagoev and scored two goals in the win over Saudi Arabia and scored again in the subsequent victory over Egypt, he was undroppable, contributing heavily in Russia’s surprising run to the quarterfinals. Overall he has five international goals in 18 appearances for Russia.