Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba has been provisionally suspended for an anti-doping offence, according to Italy’s national anti-doping tribunal.
The test, performed after Juve’s victory at Udinese on August 20, detected elevated levels of testosterone, a hormone that increases athletes’ endurance.
Nado Italia, the anti-doping agency, said that Pogba was suspended provisionally with immediate effect. Pending a trial and testing of a backup “B” sample, he risks a suspension of up to four years.
Juventus released a statement acknowledging the failed test and said they were considering their next steps.
The news is another negative note for a player who has been bothered by injuries ever since rejoining Juventus from Manchester United a little more than a year ago.
He was ruled out of France’s run to the World Cup final last year due to a knee injury and played in only six Serie A matches for Juventus last season.
Pogba has yet to start a game this season but has made two substitute appearances, last playing in the 2-0 win at Empoli.
There’s also been a police investigation ongoing in France into allegations that Pogba was targeted by extortionists – including by his older brother, Mathias, who has denied any wrongdoing.
It’s also another blow to Juventus following a season marred by inquiries into false accounting and irregular reporting of salary payments. The legal cases resulted in the Turin club being removed by UEFA from European competition this season.
Pogba: I almost quit football over alleged blackmail plot
Earlier on Monday, Pogba said he was almost driven to walk away from football after allegedly being blackmailed by an organised crime gang.
The 30-year-old midfielder’s brother Mathias was detained in September 2022 on suspicion of involvement in the alleged plot, which Paul claimed amounted to a bid to extort £11.1m from him.
Mathias was released in December and denies the charges.
Paul Pogba reported the incident to Turin prosecutors in July of last year, shortly after leaving Manchester United on a free transfer in order to rejoin Juventus.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Paul 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 anymore. 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.”
Laure Beccuau, a Paris prosecutor, said the investigation was looking into allegations of “blackmail by an armed gang, kidnapping and membership of a criminal conspiracy”.
Pogba’s 15-month struggle
June 1 2022 – Manchester United announce Pogba will leave Old Trafford for the second time upon the expiration of his contract.
July 2022 – Reports alleged blackmail plot to Turin prosecutors, which he claimed amounted to a bid to extort £11.1m from him
July 11 2022 – Joins Juventus for the second time, signing a four-year contract in Turin.
July 26 2022 – Suffers injury to meniscus that keeps him out for two months.
November 2022 – Surgery to knee injury rules midfielder out of France’s World Cup campaign in Qatar.
February 28 2023 – Finally makes his second debut for Juve in a 4-2 win against Torino.
March 9 2023 – Dropped for Europa League match against Freiburg by Massimiliano Allegri after arriving late to a team dinner.
March 13 2023 – Suffers muscle injury in training; doesn’t play again for a month.
May 14 2023 – Handed first league start against Cremonese, but lasts just 23 minutes due to injury. Left thigh lesion later discovered, which ends his season.
August 27 2023 – Makes first appearance of the season as second half substitute in 1-1 draw against Bologna.
September 11 2023 – Provisionally suspended from football for anti-doping offence.