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Paul Pogba banned for four years for doping

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Paul Pogba banned for four years for doping

The French international is banned for four years because he tested positive for an illegal testosterone preparation. The former golden boy helps his club Juventus Turin even in the worst moment of his career.

It is uncertain whether he will return to professional football: Paul Pogba.

Giuseppe Maffia / Imago

The wheels of sports justice grind slowly, but they grind continually. More than six months after an artificial testosterone preparation was found in Juventus player Paul Pogba’s body, Italy’s anti-doping authority has announced the verdict: a four-year ban.

The judges thus followed the prosecution’s request. For Pogba, who will turn 31 in March, this will probably mean the end of his career. The Frenchman can still lodge an objection before the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (TAS) in Lausanne. But the facts are unfavorable for him. Especially since Pogba had decided not to make a settlement, which might have resulted in a lesser ban. Now the 2018 world champion is faced with a huge pile of broken glass.

Two weeks ago, Pogba had sent out signs of hope. In interviews, his agent Rafaela Pimenta praised her protégé’s hard work in training despite the ban. “He could come onto the pitch tomorrow, he is ready for anything, physically and mentally,” she said. His motto is: take hits, digest them, get up again and continue on your way.

Pogba has already failed to return to Juventus

After the verdict, Pogba will have to find a new path. A continuation of his career in paid football seems unlikely. Especially since his comeback at Juventus has already failed. In Turin he was celebrated as a bearer of hope. He won at least four championship titles in his first time with the Bianconeri. At that time he was a strong defensive midfielder with a good eye for the people next to him. His sale to Manchester United brought 105 million euros into Juventus’ coffers; Of course, 27 million of them had to be passed on to the clever manager Mino Raiola. But Pogba was the golden boy who was still generating profit when he left.

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However, his return to Italy in the summer of 2022 was marked by injury problems. First, against the advice of the Juventus doctors, he decided not to have a meniscus operation because he did not want to jeopardize his participation in the World Cup for France. Then conservative therapy didn’t work; Pogba still had to undergo surgery. There was no thought of playing at the World Cup in Qatar. In the 2022/23 season he made a meager six appearances in Serie A and one in the Champions League. He was also burdened by the bizarre blackmail attempt by his brother Mathias.

To make matters worse, Pogba didn’t even play in the match, after which he had to go to the fateful doping control. He was only on the bench against Udinese on August 20, 2023. However, he had the illegal testosterone preparation in his body. During the course of the trial, he admitted to receiving and taking a nutritional supplement from a doctor friend in Miami. The preparation contained the adrenal steroid DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone). It is considered a miracle cure for aging processes.

Low levels of DHEA in the body have also been found in various studies with diseases such as osteoporosis, breast cancer, diabetes, depression and fatigue syndrome, making administration of the drug promising. However, studies show contradictory results. A whole series of side effects has meant that DHEA supplements are only available with a prescription in many European countries. In the USA it is available over the counter as a dietary supplement.

It is of course on the doping list of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) – because of its suspected performance-enhancing effects. And in the course of the hearings and the exchange of written submissions, Pogba and his lawyers were apparently unable to provide the court with any plausible arguments for reduced guilt. Accordingly, the full sentence was imposed on Pogba.

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Juventus now needs to find a new number 10

The verdict is a catastrophe for the athlete. However, it could even have positive consequences for his employer. Because no one at Juventus expected Pogba in the form of his early years.

Now the “Gazzetta dello Sport” is speculating about the amount of money the club could now save. According to the Italian sports newspaper, instead of a gross annual salary of 12 million euros, Juventus only paid the midfielder the minimum salary of 2,000 euros per month during the suspension period.

Given the four-year ban, it is likely that the contract, which is also valid for four years, will be terminated. The “Gazzetta dello Sport” calculated that the club could use up to 33 million euros for other purposes. This leads to the strange point that the former golden boy, even in his worst personal moment, helps the club to which he owes his breakthrough to the top of the world. Because it gives Juventus more financial flexibility. And the number 10 on the back will also be free again. Juventus now just needs to find a player for whom the jersey is appropriate – and who is affordable for the club.

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