Juventus’ Paul Pogba has been provisionally banned after testing positive for doping. If the suspicion against France’s world champion is confirmed, his career will be at stake.
Paul Pogba once again made it to page one of France’s sports newspaper “L’Equipe” on Tuesday morning (September 12th, 2023). In terms of sport, France’s midfield star, who missed almost the entire last season and also the World Cup in Qatar due to a long-term knee injury, has hardly made any headlines recently
Positive test for testosterone – “Pogba at rock bottom”
But now “L’Equipe” headlined: “Pogba at rock bottom” after it was reported from Italy on Monday evening that the Juventus professional was found to have too high a testosterone level in a doping test. This was confirmed by the Italian Anti-Doping Agency and Pogba was provisionally banned. The positive test is said to have been detected during a check after the Juventus game in Udine on August 20th. If the B sample also turns out positive, the 2018 world champion faces a four-year ban – for the 30-year-old Pogba, this means that his career may be at stake.
Doping history in Italian football
The “Pogba case” was also the big topic in Italy’s sports newspapers on Tuesday morning. The Gazzetta dello Sport took the opportunity to once again list the doping offenses on file in Italian football, a not inconsiderable number of which have accumulated over the years.
Juventus in the sights of doping investigators
What is striking is that, in addition to players from Lazio (Jaap Stam, Fernando Couto), Juventus in particular was repeatedly targeted by doping investigators. Juventus star Edgar Davids was banned for four months in 2001 for taking nandrolone, an anabolic steroid.
A trial in 2004 against Turin’s club management and medical department at the time caused a stir. She was suspected of having administered illicit performance-enhancing drugs to star players such as Zinedine Zidane, Didier Deschamps and Alessandro Del Piero. According to the Turin public prosecutor’s office, increased fluctuations in hematocrit values were found in ten Juventus professionals between 1994 and 1998, an indication of EPO doping. The then Juventus team doctor was convicted of allegations of systematic doping, but was later acquitted.
The case of Marco Borriello from AC Milan was also remembered in Italy. The striker was banned for three months in 2006 because of abnormal cortisone levels. Borriello’s partner at the time provided the explanation for the finding. She stated that she had used a vaginal ointment containing cortisone to combat an infection and that the medication was then transmitted during sex. So no doping, just Amore – who would want to assume anything bad about that?
FIFA’s anti-doping policy criticized
Football’s handling of the issue of doping is repeatedly criticized, even outside of Italy. Just a few weeks ago, David Howman, chairman of the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), criticized the world association FIFA for its negligent anti-doping policy in the Guardian: “There is FIFA. And there is the rest of the world. FIFA’s strategy is limited to controls during games. But with everything that happens in between, they have their problems.“
In the search for testosterone doping, the new biological athlete passport could also help in football to more easily detect steroid abuse. It is unclear whether the procedure has already been used in Italy.
Pogba ban – Juventus is waiting for now
In the case of Paul Pogba, it will depend on whether he can provide an explanation for the positive result of the illegal testosterone drug – and, above all, what explanation. If an illegal substance was intentionally taken, the public prosecutor’s office would take action against Pogba under Italy’s strict anti-doping law.
His club Juventus reacted cautiously. The club was quoted as saying that they initially reserve the right to evaluate the next procedural steps. This probably means that Juve would first like to wait for the results of the B sample and possible further analyses.
Testosterone administered without Pogba’s knowledge?
Pogba should be given the opportunity to clarify. For example, if he could prove that the illegal substance was administered to him as part of medical treatment, possibly without his knowledge and also without the knowledge of the club or due to the carelessness of a doctor or therapist.
Pogba only had surgery for his knee injury last fall and was being treated for months, including abroad, according to Italian media.
However, Gazzetta dello Sport reported that neither Pogba nor Juventus had applied to the National Anti-Doping Agency to be allowed to use a testosterone preparation for medical reasons. In certain cases, this exemption can even be granted retrospectively, but is absolutely necessary in order to exonerate yourself in a doping case.
Ban for Pogba – possibly for several months
Just last fall, Atalanta Bergamo’s Jose Luis Palomino was acquitted by the Italian Anti-Doping Tribunal. Palomino had tested positive for the anabolic steroid preparation Clostebol, which is contained in scar ointments and was tolerated by the court in this use. However, the player remained suspended for more than three months until the decision was made. The case has not yet been finally resolved; proceedings are still ongoing before the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Paul Pogba is also likely to face a few restless months. France’s midfield ace, who actually wanted to attack again after a long rehab, only recently announced on Al-Jazeera that he would show his critics: “I’m going to make them eat their own lines.” That will probably have to wait for now.