In French, there’s a saying, “Un malheur ne vient jamais seul,” which translates to “Trouble comes in Threes,” perfectly encapsulating the series of unfortunate events that have befallen football star Paul Pogba since his return to Juventus last season. The 30-year-old player has faced a myriad of challenges, including injuries, extortion attempts, and now, a doping scandal involving non-endogenous testosterone metabolites. The whirlwind of adversity surrounding Pogba raises questions not only about his future in football but also about the doping controls and procedures in the sport.
Monday was supposed to be a day of hope for Paul Pogba, as he trained at Juventus’ Continassa base with the aspiration of being fit for the weekend’s game against Lazio. However, a report from the Italian newswire ANSA drastically altered the course of his day. According to the report, Pogba submitted an adverse analytical finding in an anti-doping control after Juventus’ 3-0 win against Udinese on August 20, a match in which he did not even play a single minute. The Italian Anti-Doping Organization, NADO, confirmed that Pogba had been provisionally suspended pending the analysis of a B sample. The provisional suspension came after non-endogenous testosterone metabolites were detected in his test, indicating that the testosterone was not produced by his body.
In response to the adverse analytical finding, Juventus stated, “The club reserves the right to consider the next procedural steps.” Pogba, deemed innocent until proven guilty, will be judged by the Anti-Doping Tribunal of the Italian Olympic Committee. The club’s statement and actions in the coming days will be crucial as they navigate this sensitive issue. The existing collective bargaining agreement between the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), Serie A, and the Players’ Association (AIC) provides some insight into Juventus’ options. According to Article 5.5 of the agreement, a positive doping test is one of the instances in which it is possible to suspend a player’s pay. This case, therefore, removes even the need for negotiation on that point.
The Paul Pogba doping case is not the first of its kind in Serie A. Atalanta centre-back Jose Palomino and then Sassuolo centre-back Francesco Acerbi both faced doping charges in the past, with varying outcomes. Palomino tested positive for clostebol metabolites and was absolved after his legal team argued accidental contamination. Acerbi, on the other hand, was provisionally and insensitively banned after an adverse analytical finding revealed the return of his testicular cancer. His suspension was annulled, and he overcame his illness to play in a Champions League final against Manchester City. These cases serve as a reminder not to prejudge, as the circumstances surrounding each case can vary significantly.
The doping scandal is just one of many challenges faced by Paul Pogba in recent times. In an interview with Al Jazeera released before the news of the adverse analytical finding broke, Pogba opened up about an alleged extortion attempt that led to the arrest and subsequent release of one of his brothers, Mathias. Pogba expressed his desire to be loved for who he is, not for his fame or money. His agent and ‘second mother,’ Rafaela Pimenta, stated, “We await the B sample, and until then we can’t say anything. What we can say for sure is Paul never wanted to break the rules.”
Paul Pogba’s ordeal is a stark reminder of the pressure and scrutiny faced by professional athletes. As he awaits the results of the B sample, the football world watches closely, hoping for a fair and just resolution. The doping scandal, coupled with his recent challenges, has cast a dark cloud over Pogba’s season, one that he, his fans, and the football community hope will soon pass.
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