Paul Pogba, Pep Guardiola and four other doping cases that rocked the footballing world

Paul Pogba tested positive for testosterone during a doping test in 2023

Paul Pogba has been handed a significant four-year suspension after testing positive for testosterone during a doping test conducted on August 20th, 2023.

What other cases of doping has the footballing world seen in its rich filled history?

Paul Pogba (Testosterone)

The French midfielder’s case represents one of the most severe doping sanctions witnessed in recent times, as he faces consequences for using testosterone to enhance his athletic performance.

Paul Pogba tested positive for testosterone during a doping test in 2023

The incident came to light following a test conducted during the Udinese-Juventus match last August, where Pogba, though present on the bench, did not participate in the game.

Testosterone is known to enhance performance in strength and power-based sports like football, by positively impacting strength development, hypertrophy, speed, recovery capacity, and endurance.

Andre Onana (Furosemide)

In a relatively recent case, Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana faced doping allegations while playing for Ajax in 2021. Following an out-of-competition doping test on October 30th, 2020, Onana tested positive for furosemide, resulting in a 12-month ban.

Andre Onana was banned for 12 months for the testing positive of furosemide in his urine

However, the ban was later reduced to nine months. Onana expressed deep embarrassment regarding the ruling, stating,

“I was in shock. It wasn’t an excuse I had just made up, I wasn’t trying to cheat, it was a stupid mistake.”

Furosemide is prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) due to its classification as a “masking agent.” Its diuretic properties could potentially aid in the elimination of other banned substances.

Adrian Mutu (Cocaine and sibutramine)

The Romanian footballer stands out as one of the most notable repeat offenders in the sport. His first encounter with doping violations dates back to 2004 during his time with Chelsea.

It was Jose Mourinho’s request for a doping control that uncovered the use of cocaine, a revelation later admitted by the player himself.

Adrian Mutu first tested positive for cocaine in 2004 when he was a member of the Chelsea squad.

As a consequence of this incident, he incurred a hefty fine of 17 million euros, imposed by the London club for breaching his contract.

However, his tryst with doping did not end there. In 2010, while representing Fiorentina, he tested positive for sibutramine, a substance known for its appetite-suppressing and weight loss properties. This led to a nine-month suspension by the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI).

Carlos Gurpegui (19-norandrosterone)

One of Athletic Club’s greatest stars in the recent era began an ordeal in 2002 that lasted until 2008, when he returned in a LaLiga match against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu after two years away from competition.

Carlos Gurpegui tested positive in September 2002

Gurpegui tested positive in September 2002 in an anti-doping test after playing against Real Sociedad on matchday one. The tests found a higher than permitted amount of 19-norandrosterone, the main metabolite of nandrolone.

Pep Guardiola (Nandrolone)

The former Barcelona player and coach tested positive for nandrolone during his time at Brescia.

On November 20th, 2001, CONI reported that the Catalan midfielder had tested positive in a test carried out after a match against Piacenza. The Italian League Disciplinary Commission suspended him on a precautionary basis.

Pep Guardiola tested positive for nandrolone during his time at Brescia

In the end, Guardiola had to serve a four-month ban and pay a fine of 50,000 euros. Subsequently, in 2005, the Court of Justice of Brescia sentenced him to seven months imprisonment for his positive test. In 2007, the Court of Appeal of Brescia acquitted him.

Nandrolone is an anabolic agent banned in sport since the 1980s because of its ability to help rebuild tissue and facilitate muscle development.  It provides an advantage in sports involving strength and speed.

Diego Armando Maradona (Cocaine and ephedrine)

The vast majority of football fans will remember, or have subsequently seen, images of the late Maradona leaving the 1994 World Cup in the United States prematurely.

Diego was forced to leave the Argentina team because he tested positive for ephedrine. A substance he must have used to speed up the recovery process from an injury that almost prevented him from playing in that World Cup.

Maradona tested positive for doping in the middle of the 1994 World Cup

This substance is considered to be a central nervous system stimulant, an effect that gives it its banned status. This episode virtually ended his career.

Three years earlier, in 1991, his cocaine addiction caused him to fail an anti-doping test after a Napoli-Bari match. Each of the sanctions imposed on him for these two cases lasted 15 months.

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