French Star Paul Pogba Suspended for Four Years

Paul Pogba, a star midfielder representing both France and Juventus, finds himself embroiled in a contentious doping controversy — resulting in a harsh four-year ban from football.

This saga began when Pogba was placed under provisional suspension by Italy’s national anti-doping tribunal, NADO Italia, in September. The cause? A positive test for testosterone, a prohibited substance according to regulations.

Subsequently, Italian prosecutors pressed for the maximum penalty of a four-year ban in December. The incident in question occurred after Juventus’ match against Udinese on August 20, 2023. Although Pogba did not take the field, his presence on the bench did not shield him from scrutiny as the positive test tarnished his reputation.

Despite the damning verdict, Pogba maintains his innocence. He announced his intent to challenge the ruling, vowing to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. He maintains that he has never engaged in the use of prohibited substances.

“I have today been informed of the Tribunale Nazionale Antidoping’s decision and believe that the verdict is incorrect,” Pogba said. “I am sad, shocked and heartbroken that everything I have built in my professional playing career has been taken away from me.

“When I am free of legal restrictions the full story will become clear, but I have never knowingly or deliberately taken any supplements that violate anti-doping regulations. As a professional athlete I would never do anything to enhance my performance by using banned substances and have never disrespected or cheated fellow athletes and supporters of any of the teams I have played for, or against. As a consequence of the decision announced today I will appeal this before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”

Pogba made a strategic decision to forego any plea bargain negotiations with Italy’s anti-doping agency, thus leading to the case being adjudicated in the country’s anti-doping court. An individual familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity due to Italy’s stringent privacy laws, confirmed the outcome to The Associated Press.

While four-year bans are customary under the World Anti-Doping Code, provisions exist for reduction under specific circumstances. These include instances where athletes can demonstrate that their doping was inadvertent, stemming from contamination, or if they provide significant cooperation to assist investigators.

The 30-year-old returned to Juventus in 2022 following his second tenure at Manchester United. On the international level, Pogba was a member of the France squad that won the 2018 World Cup — he scored a goal in the Final against Croatia to extend France’s lead to 3-1.