Paul Pogba is suspected of taking illegal drugs. At the end of the first round of Serie A match with Udinese, testosterone metabolites of external origin were found in the doping test of the Juventus midfielder. He faces disqualification for up to four years. At the moment, the Frenchman is temporarily suspended from football, and if his guilt is confirmed, he also risks losing contact with the Turin club.
The last year has been extremely difficult for Paul Pogba, with setbacks following him both on and off the field. While the midfielder himself was recovering from numerous injuries and only watched his team’s performance at the World Championships in Qatar on TV, the media discussed the story of extortion in which the athlete’s brother Mathias and his childhood friends were involved. It seemed that in the new season the midfielder would finally be able to cope with the problems and remind him why he was considered one of the most talented football players of his generation, but that was not the case. Already at the beginning of September, he again found himself in the infirmary, and then rumors appeared about his use of prohibited drugs.
In the current championship, Pogba spent a total of 52 minutes on the field – he came on as a substitute in matches with Bologna and Empoli. At the same time, he passed a positive doping test at the end of the meeting of the opening round of Serie A with Udinese, which he spent on the bench. According to ANSA, testosterone metabolites were found in his sample, the use of which is prohibited without a therapeutic exception. And the maximum penalty for its use is four years of disqualification.
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After this, events began to develop rapidly. The National Anti-Doping Tribunal of Italy (NADO) reported that the rise in hormone levels is caused by external influences, and not by internal factors, and this indirectly confirms the use of prohibited drugs. And they rushed to remove Pogba “as a precautionary measure.” This was later confirmed by Juventus.
At the moment, it is not known for certain how the doping entered the athlete’s body. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, this may be due to the use of a dietary supplement that he purchased in the USA on the advice of a doctor friend who is in no way connected with the Turin club. The midfielder himself allegedly already spoke about the fact of using a drug that was not agreed with the Juventus medical service.
If Pogba is able to confirm this information, then in his case we will be talking about the use of doping through negligence, and this could reduce his suspension period. In any case, everything will be decided after the results of additional analysis appear, designed to dot the i’s in this issue. And if he does not refute the initial data, then Paul’s career may go downhill. After all, he risks not only being out of football for a long period of time, but also losing his contract with the “old lady”.
At the moment, Pogba remains the highest paid Juventus player. According to the agreement until the summer of 2026, he receives €8 million a year, and another two million are due to him in the form of bonuses. However, the people of Turin have the right to tear it apart if Paul’s guilt is proven. Moreover, the club is already free to suspend wages. Indeed, according to the collective agreement between FIFA, Serie A and the Italian Footballers’ Association (AIC), a positive doping test is considered a legal basis for such measures.
Pogba himself has not yet commented on this case – only his agent Rafaela Pimenta said that he “did not want to break the rules.” But the French national team coach Didier Deschamps made a statement. He called it “another blow” for Paul and sympathized with him, but urged him not to make hasty conclusions. According to him, recently a lot of bad things have been happening in the midfielder’s life, which are incredibly difficult to go through.
Indeed, even if we ignore the sensational story of extortion, things have not been going well for Pogba lately. Seven years ago, he moved to Manchester United as one of the strongest players in his position in the world and a potential contender for the Ballon d’Or, and the compensation amounted to a record at that time of €105 million. However, the Frenchman has to live up to the hopes placed on him Did not work out. In fact, he spent only four competitive years at a relatively high level, and only one at the top level. In the 2018/19 season, he recorded 16 goals and 11 assists in all competitions.
True, there was tension with trophies – both for Manchester United and for Pogba himself. During this period, the Mancunians were content with the English League Cup and the Europa League, and although he himself was recognized as the best player in the second most important club tournament in the Old World, he never came close to the Golden Ball. Only twice he was among the applicants for the award, but did not even make it to the top ten according to the voting results.
It seemed that Paul would be able to restart his career at Juventus. In a not very strong championship, he could become the main star and help the Turin team regain their status as the hegemon of the Italian championship. But health problems intervened. In just one year, the Frenchman suffered a total of six different injuries and was forced to have knee surgery in September. As a result, 143 days in the hospital and missing the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Pogba returned to action in January, but his misadventures did not end thereafter. Due to a strained groin muscle, he missed another month, was not included in the squad for the Europa League match with Freiburg due to being late, and then was injured twice more – first while practicing free kicks in training, and then while delivering a cross in a game with “Cremonese”. And by this time, both Juventus fans and experts were already loudly trumpeting the need to part with him.
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And Pogba’s departure from Turin was possible in the summer. Al-Ahly was allegedly interested in his services, offering a three-year contract worth a total of €150 million. However, the Frenchman himself refused the tempting offer and decided to stay in Italy. And thereby confirmed his reluctance to leave big football. At least, this was the conclusion that suggested itself.
However, Pogba’s future now looks murky. Let’s say he manages to avoid a long disqualification, but at his age even the loss of one or two years could become critical. The Frenchman celebrated his 30th birthday in March and is approaching the final stage of his career. And at this age, missing a season will become critical. Few people have successfully returned to sports after suspension.
One can recall the examples of Rio Ferdinand and Fred, who missed eight and twelve months respectively. But the Englishman was 26 at the time, and the Brazilian was 22. The moral aspect cannot be ignored. It is difficult to predict whether Pogba’s psyche will withstand this test, because over the past year he has already had to endure a lot.
A positive course of events is also possible, even in the event of disqualification. Perhaps Pogba will resolve all his health problems during this time, return to the field in perfect condition and remind himself of the example of his first arrival at Juventus. But given the way Paul’s affairs have developed in recent years, this is hard to believe.