Paul Pogba 'sad, shocked and heartbroken' after four-year doping ban

Juventus and France midfielder says he will be appealing against verdict that could end his football career

Paul Pogba has played nearly 200 games for Juventus over two spells at the Italian club. AP
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Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba says he is “sad, shocked and heart-broken” after being given a four-year ban from football after failing a drugs test.

The French World Cup winner tested positive for testosterone metabolites following Juventus's opening match of the Serie A season against Udinese on August 20, during which he was an unused substitute.

He also made appearances off the bench for Juventus against Bologna on August 27 and Empoli on September 3, before his suspension was announced.

A month later a B sample confirmed the presence of testosterone, and he has been provisionally suspended since. Pogba's representatives said the testosterone came from a food supplement prescribed by a doctor he consulted in the United States.

Italy's National Anti-Doping Tribunal accepted the request of the Anti-Doping Prosecutor's Office to hand out the four-year ban – which is the standard length of ban under the World Anti-Doping Code. Pogba has said that he will appeal.

“I have today been informed of the Tribunale Nazionale Antidoping's decision and believe that the verdict is incorrect,” Pogba, 30, said in a statement on Instagram.

“I am sad, shocked and heart-broken 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 antidoping 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.”

It remains to be seen whether this will mean the end of Pogba's career. The ban starts from when Pogba first tested positive and he will now be out of action until August 2027 when he will be 34 years old.

Pogba became the world’s most expensive footballer when he moved back to Manchester United from Juve for £89 million in 2016, before rejoining the Italian giants on a free transfer in the summer of 2022.

The 2018 World Cup-winner has featured only sparingly since returning to Turin after a number of injury setbacks, making six Serie A appearances last season and two this term. He has a contract at Juve until June 2026.

He has played 423 career games for Manchester United and Juventus, scoring 73 goals, winning the Serie A title four times and Coppa Italia twice, as well as the Europa League and League Cup while in England.

He was unable to help France defend their World Cup crown at the 2022 finals in Qatar after undergoing knee surgery and missed his country's run to the final where they lost to a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina.

Four years earlier, Poga had been one of the driving forces behind France's victory in Moscow which saw him score the third goal in a 4-2 win over Croatia in the final at the Luzhniki Stadium. He also won the Nations League in 2021 when the French beat Spain 2-1.

It is highly unlikely that Pogba will be able to reach 100 caps for his country and will remain on 91 games which saw him find the back of the net 11 times.

In 2022, Pogba contacted the police claiming that a gang had been demanding £11 million ($13m) for “protection services”, allegedly involving his brother, Mathias Pogba.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, midfielder Pogba, said: "When there is money you have to be careful. Money changes people. It can break up a family. It can create a war.

"Sometimes I was just by myself thinking, 'I don't want to have money any more. I just don't want to play anymore. I just want to be with normal people, so they will love me for me – not for the fame, not for the money.'

"Sometimes it's tough. This life, you have to go through it. It will only make me stronger."

Updated: March 01, 2024, 8:18 AM