Paul Pogba handed four-year ban for doping offence

The World Cup winner and former Manchester United midfielder has been handed a four-year ban from football after testing positive for testosterone - but has confirmed he will appeal the verdict

Jamie Braidwood
Thursday 29 February 2024 17:32 GMT
Paul Pogba Suspended After Failed Doping Test.

Paul Pogba has been banned from football for four years for a doping offence, but the former World Cup winner is set to take his appeal to court in a bid to save his career.

The France and Juventus midfielder was provisionally suspended in September after testing positive for testosterone but in a statement, the 30-year-old insisted he has “never knowingly or deliberately” violated anti-doping rules.

Pogba said he was “sad, shocked and heartbroken” and believes the verdict of Italy’s national anti-doping tribunal to hand him the maximum penalty of four years is “incorrect”.

Pogba won the World Cup with France in 2018, two years after he became the most expensive footballer in the world when Manchester United signed him for a record £89m.

He was an unused substitute for Juventus in a Serie A game against Udinese on 20 August when he tested positive for testosterone. In October, counter-analysis on a second sample taken from Pogba also returned a positive result.

Italy’s national anti-doping body suspended Pogba and a request from Italy’s sports prosecutor to hand Pogba a four-year ban, the maximum punishment available to them, was granted.

Shortly after their verdict was released, Pogba confirmed that he will appeal the decision at sport’s highest court, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in Switzerland.

Pogba will turn 31 in March and a four-year ban could potentially spell the end of his career at the top level.

“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.

Pogba won the World Cup with France in 2018 (Getty Images)

“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.”

By banning Pogba for four years, Italy’s anti-doping tribunal would have needed to show that the midfielder had taken a banned substance deliberately. Testosterone is a hormone that increases an athletes’ endurance and physical performance.

Juventus are yet to comment on Pogba’s four-year ban, but when news of Pogba’s provisional suspension broke in September, the Italian club said they would consider “the next procedural steps”.

Pogba made his last appearance for Juventus on 3 September (Getty Images)

Juventus signed Pogba on a free transfer in 2022 when his contract with Manchester United expired, handing him a four-year deal.

Pogba made just one start for Juventus last season due to a series of knee and hamstring injuries, while he was also ruled out of the Qatar World Cup.

Through his outstanding performances in midfield and leadership in the dressing room, Pogba played a key role in France’s World Cup win in Russia in 2018.

Pogba’s standing as one of the leading players in the world was reflected when United broke the world transfer record to re-sign him from Juventus in 2016.

Pogba was signed by United for a world-record £89m in 2016 (Getty Images)

But his second spell at Old Trafford often failed to live up to expectations - in what was an inconsistent and disappointing time for the club overall.

In six years, Pogba won the Europa League and Carabao Cup but United failed to compete for the biggest trophies on a regular basis.

Pogba returned to Juventus, the club where he first established himself as one of the most exciting midfielders in the world and won four Serie A titles between 2012 and 2016, but struggled with injuries.

After missing the World Cup in December 2022, Pogba was looking to return to the Juventus team at the start of the season in August. He was an unused substitute in Juventus’s 3-0 win against Udinese on the opening day of the season before making appearances off the bench against Bologna and Empoli.

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