Paul Pogba Suspended for Four Years Following Failed Anti-Doping Test

Paul Pogba Suspended for Four Years Following Failed Anti-Doping Test

After failing a doping test, Paul Pogba has been suspended from football for four years. The 30-year-old midfielder from Juventus believes the decision is “wrong” and he will appeal against it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Initially, Pogba was handed a provisional suspension by NADO (Italian anti-doping organization) in September after an unsuccessful test, following his team’s 3-0 victory in Udine on August 20.

Violation of doping regulations can lead to bans ranging from two to four years according to FIFA guidelines, depending on whether it can be proven intentional. Pogba stated in a statement, “I have been informed today of the decision of the National Anti-Doping Tribunal and I believe the decision is wrong.”

“My heart weighs heavy with sorrow, my spirit crushed under the weight of disbelief and devastation, as I come to terms with the shattering reality that everything I’ve painstakingly crafted throughout my illustrious professional sports journey has been torn asunder. When I am cleared of legal restrictions, the whole story will become clear, but I have never knowingly or intentionally taken any substance that violates doping regulations.

“As a professional athlete, I will never resort to using banned substances to enhance my performance, and I have never disrespected or betrayed the teammates and supporters of any team I have played for or against.

“In light of the latest development, I intend to seek justice through the Court of Sports. Stay tuned as we pursue fairness and uphold integrity in the game.”

According to NADO, France International was initially suspended in September because his body did not produce testosterone during testing.

NADO stated that the ‘A sample’ provided by Pogba revealed no testosterone produced by the body. After his final suspension, his ‘B sample’ was sent to the Aquasitos Clinic in Rome for further testing, where the unsuccessful test was confirmed.

Pogba was an unused option against Udinese, which was before his failed test, but he was benched in the subsequent two Serie A matches – a 1-1 draw at home against Bologna and a two-goal win over Empoli.

After spending six years at Manchester United, Pogba returned to Juventus in the summer of 2022, but fitness issues limited him to just 10 appearances in the 2022-23 campaign.

The most recent of the midfielder’s 91 caps for France came in March 2022, and his two outings this season are his only two appearances.

Paul Pogba is under contract with Juventus until the summer of 2026. Juventus is currently second in Serie A, trailing league leaders Inter by 12 points, and will be back in action on March 3rd with a league trip to Napoli.

What are anti-doping rules?

Anti-doping rules in football are present to ensure that no one gains an unfair competitive advantage and to protect the health of players. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) sets a code that is followed by the majority of sports organizations worldwide.

According to FIFA’s website, “It is the strict responsibility of the player to ensure that his body does not come into contact with any prohibited substances or methods,” and they should check every medicine or treatment they receive. WADA maintains a list of prohibited substances and methods, which it regularly updates. Athletes are only permitted to use prohibited substances or methods if they have a valid medical reason and have been granted a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).

For example, British cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins was provided with a TUE before the 2012 Tour de France, allowing him to take corticosteroid triamcinolone for the treatment of asthma – Wiggins won the competition. Triamcinolone was added to WADA’s prohibited list in 2014 because it also has performance-enhancing properties, meaning athletes can reduce their weight without significant loss of strength.

How often are footballers tested?

Due to the random nature of testing, players can go through phases in their careers where they are tested either very frequently or very infrequently. During last year’s World Cup in Qatar, FIFA conducted 369 tests, preparing 941 samples. According to FIFA’s official figures, each player was tested at least once per year before the tournament.

Players from the eight teams that reached the quarter-finals (Morocco, England, France, Brazil, Argentina, Croatia, Netherlands, and Portugal) were tested an average of 4.6 times since January 2022. Some members of those eight teams were tested up to 10 times.

What happens when a player undergoes a positive test?

If a player is found to have traces of a prohibited substance in their body, they are temporarily suspended pending further analysis. Pogba’s ‘A’ sample tested positive for testosterone. While the human body naturally produces testosterone, measuring the ratio of testosterone (T) to epitestosterone (E) in an athlete’s urine can identify exogenous testosterone.

When a player provides a sample, it is divided into two parts labeled A and B. If the A sample tests positive for a prohibited substance, the B sample is checked as a precautionary measure, which was the case for Pogba. Within three days of a positive test, a player can request testing of the B sample. Once requested, the result of this test must be provided within seven days.

Connor Ben’s boxing match against Chris Eubank Jr. in October 2022 was canceled two days before due to the presence of clomiphene in Ben’s body. Clomiphene is on WADA’s prohibited list because it can help increase testosterone levels in an athlete’s body. The decision to cancel the fight was made before analyzing Ben’s B sample.

In February 2023, the World Boxing Council issued a statement stating that Ben had provided a “positive resolution” due to “excessive consumption of eggs,” which was “a reasonable clarification.” Ben was reinstated in the WBC rankings and his suspension was lifted by the National Anti-Doping Panel in July.

Have there been similar incidents in football before?

During his time at Ajax, Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana was found with traces of furosemide in his system. This substance was in a packet of pills given to Onana’s wife after childbirth, which he accidentally took. UEFA accepted Onana’s version of events but still imposed a 12-month ban, which was reduced to nine months on appeal.

In July 2022, Atalanta defender Jos Palomino tested positive for clostebol metabolites. Palomino was unable to play for three months while awaiting the results but was cleared of wrongdoing in September due to contamination.

However, the NADO CAS tribunal’s decision is posing a challenge.

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