Pogba ‘sad and shocked’ at four-year ban for doping

Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba says he is “sad, shocked and heartbroken” after being banned from football for four years for a doping offence.

“Everything I have built in my professional career has been taken away from me,” he said in a statement.

The former Manchester United player added he would appeal.

Pogba was randomly tested after Juventus’ first match of the season on 20 August.

The positive test was confirmed by Italy’s national anti-doping tribunal (Nado) in a second sample in October, and the anti-doping prosecutor’s office requested a four-year suspension.

Juventus told the BBC they received notification from the anti-doping tribunal on Thursday morning.

Pogba said he believed the verdict was “incorrect” and he would “never knowingly or deliberately” dope.

“When I am free of legal restrictions, the full story will become clear,” he said, adding he would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).

“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.”

The ruling means 2018 World Cup winner Pogba will be unable to play until 2027, when he will be 34, with the ban backdated to the date of the failed test.

Speaking at the time of the initial suspension, Pogba’s agent, Rafaela Pimenta, said: “What is certain is that Paul Pogba never wanted to break a rule.”

Testosterone is a hormone that increases the endurance of athletes.

Nado said Pogba had violated rules when prohibited non-endogenous testosterone metabolites – substances not naturally produced by the body from testosterone – were found, and the results were “consistent with the exogenous [external] origin of the target compounds”.

What is Pogba’s contract situation? – Analysis

Mina Rzouki, Italian football journalist

A player who won four Scudetti and helped Juventus reach the Champions League final in 2015, Pogba remains a beloved figure in Turin and news of his ban – which he will appeal against – has provoked profound sadness.

Both the club and the player wanted to write the story of the icon’s triumphant return. Instead, we will be left wondering what will happen to a player who never quite fulfilled his true potential.

Pogba was initially earning an 8m euro (£6.9m) annual salary at Juventus, plus 2m euros (£1.71m) in bonuses, but when he was provisionally suspended in September 2023, this was reduced to approximately 2,400 euros per month (£2,054 per month), as provided by the collective agreement between clubs and the footballers’ association.

The club have a right to cancel the player’s contract. However, we understand that Juventus will discuss the next steps with the player and his representatives before making a final decision on how to proceed.

When Juventus announced the return of Pogba as a free agent in summer 2022, fans were delighted that the prodigal talent, who arguably performed at his world-class best in their stripes, would return to help the club challenge for titles once again.

But a season of endless injuries and controversies meant he only managed 10 appearances for the club last term.

Choosing conservative therapy rather than surgery in hopes of ensuring his presence at the Qatar World Cup resulted in further delays to his recovery, and the player not only missed the chance to represent France again but also delayed the opportunity to star for his club once more.

In between his tears, endless injuries and the club’s own problems with points deductions and investigations, Pogba and Juve had a year to forget last season.

This season carried even more hope as the player was back in training and seemingly rid of the constant injuries plaguing him. The routine drug test carried out after the first game of the season in August, a match that saw him stay on the bench, returned devastating results.

“Humanely, I’m sorry for Paul,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.

The tactician had developed a close bond with the player and was eager to utilise his talent in midfield, in addition to his experienced and authoritative voice that could have made the difference to a young dressing room.

Instead, the story looks to end sadly. In March, the player will be 31 and if Pogba loses his appeal to reduce the ban then he will be nearing 35 before he returns to football.

According to information put into the public domain by the Football Leaks website, when Pogba re-signed for Manchester United in the summer of 2016, his five-year contract was a basic £7.75m each year.

A loyalty bonus of £3.75m a year was also included. If United qualified for the Champions League, Pogba netted a further £1.85m.

In addition, Pogba had a £3m-a-year image rights deal. His agent Mino Raiola, who died in 2022, was paid £41m to help take Pogba back to United.

Juventus then re-signed Pogba on a four-year deal in July 2022 after he ran down his contract at Manchester United and left as a free agent.

Pogba said that he experienced depression after falling out with manager Jose Mourinho during the Portuguese manager’s time in charge at Old Trafford.

There is also an ongoing French police criminal investigation, launched in summer 2022, after Pogba said he was the victim of an alleged blackmail plot by an organised crime gang.

His brother Mathias Pogba was one of five people detained and placed under formal investigation. His lawyer said his client is innocent. There has not yet been a resolution to the case.

In Pogba’s first spell at Juventus, from 2012-16, he made 178 appearances across all competitions and won four league titles, scoring 34 goals, before re-joining United for a then-world record transfer fee of £89.3m.

He had previously moved to United as a teenager from Le Havre before departing at the age of 19 for Juventus.

Pogba has played a total of 51 minutes as a substitute this season in games against Bologna and Empoli.

Last season he played 108 minutes over six Serie A games, made three appearances and had one assist in the Europa League, and managed 11 minutes in the Coppa Italia – a total of 162 minutes and no goals.

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