The nightmare continues for Paul Pogba: the counter-analysis requested by the 2018 World Champion after his positive doping test in August has confirmed the presence of testosterone, and now exposes him to a four-year suspension.
Less than a month after his provisional suspension on September 11 by the Italian anti-doping agency (Nado), Pogba, 30, learned on Friday that the analysis of his B sample, carried out on Thursday, had revealed the presence of testosterone metabolites, as in the A sample.
The information, first reported by Gazzetta dello Sport and then by other Italian media, was confirmed to AFP by a source with knowledge of the case.
Under the World Anti-Doping Code, the international midfielder (91 caps) is liable to a four-year suspension, which could be halved if he can prove that he did not commit the offence.
It could even be limited to a few months if the use of the substance took place "out of competition and is not related to his level of performance".
To explain this positive doping test, "La Pioche's" entourage had announced last month that the testosterone metabolytes had come from a dietary supplement prescribed by a doctor consulted in the United States.
Seven days to communicate your defense -
Testosterone, the male fertility and sexuality hormone, promotes muscle development.
Pogba now has seven days to submit his defence to the National Anti-Doping Tribunal, which will investigate his case and request a sanction, a procedure that could take several weeks.
In addition to the ongoing proceedings under Italian sports law, a judicial investigation will be opened by the Turin public prosecutor's office, as doping is considered a criminal offence in Italy.
Since the announcement of his positive test, Pogba has been unable to train with Juventus Turin, the club to which he returned in July 2022 after six seasons with Manchester United.
Contacted by AFP, the Piedmontese club, which has also suspended payment of his estimated salary of €8 million a year until 2026, has yet to react.
The announcement came shortly before Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri's press conference on the eve of the Turin derby against Torino, in which he simply said he was "sorry for Paul".
Pogba's entourage, contacted by AFP, declined to comment.
The doping scandal is the final blow to a nightmarish year-and-a-half for Pogba, both on and off the pitch.
On the pitch, he made just ten appearances for Juve last season, mainly due to a meniscus injury in his right knee, which he finally had operated on in September. Too late to take part in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
But it was away from the pitch that the Guinean-born player experienced the worst of it.
- Sequestration -
In March 2022, three childhood friends and two old acquaintances from the neighborhood where the Pogba family grew up in Roissy-en-Brie, near Paris, held him for three hours to extort 13 million euros from him, using two hooded men armed with rifles.
One of his brothers was implicated in this organized extortion attempt, while his mother, wife and agent were also threatened.
In mid-September, in Paris, Pogba was confronted for five hours by five of his relatives suspected of having played a role in his kidnapping.
The 2023-24 season was looking brighter for Pogba, despite a summer preparation period disrupted by the after-effects of his injury and surgery.
Called up for Matchday 1 of the Italian Championship for the trip to Udine, during which he was tested by the anti-doping authorities, he did not play that day. But a week later, on August 27, he was back on the pitch three months after his last game, in the 1-1 home draw with Bologna.
In an interview with Qatari channel Al-Jazeera broadcast just a few hours before the announcement of his positive test, Paul Pogba promised to come back "stronger".
Now he just has to hope he can come back at all.