KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Paul Pogba, the forgotten French World Cup winner, has been suspended from football for four years in Italy after testing positive for DHEA, a banned substance which prompts raised levels of testosterone.

Pogba, currently with Juventus, has said he will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the decision by the Italy’s national anti-doping organisation. He is under contract with Juventus until June 2026.

The 30-year-old’s career has plummeted into a miasma of controversy and chaos since he helped France beat Croatia in 2018 to win the World Cup Final in Russia.

Paul Pogba . . . from World Cup glory to dope test outcast

In a statement Pogba said: “I am sad, shocked and heartbroken that everything I have built in my professional playing career has been taken away from me.

“As a professional athlete I would never do anything to enhance my performance by using banned substances and have never disrespected or cheated fellow athletes and supporters of any of the teams I have played for, or against.

“When I am free of legal restrictions the full story will become clear, but I have never knowingly or deliberately taken any supplements that violate anti-doping regulations. As a consequence of the decision announced today I will appeal this before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”

Unused sub

Pogba failed a test after Juve’s 3-0 Serie A season-opening victory at Udinese on August 20. He was an unused substitute in that game but made two appearances off the bench against Bologna and Empoli before he was handed a provisional suspension in September.

The positive test was confirmed by an analysis on a second sample in October. If the ban is upheld by CAS, Pogba’s contract could be terminated and he will not be able to return to action until September, 2027 when he will be 34.

A NADO tribunal had said it detected the prohibited substance “non-endogenous testosterone metabolites”, adding that the results were “consistent with the exogenous (external) origin of the target compounds”.

Pogba began with Le Havre, moved to Manchester United as a teenager but fell out with Sir Alex Ferguson and joined Juventus at 19. Between 2012 and 2016, he made 178 appearances across all competitions and won four league titles, scoring 34 goals, before re-joining United for a then-world record transfer fee of £89.3m.

United contract

Pogba was reportedly on a five-year contract worth a basic £7.75m-a-year before bonuses. He also had a £3m-a-year image rights deal. However he has said he suffered depression after falling out with manager Jose Mourinho. He ran down his contract and rejoined Juventus as a free agent in 2022.

Injuries meant that last season he played 108 minutes over six Serie A games, made three appearances and had one assist in the Europa League, and managed 11 minutes in the Coppa Italia – a total of 162 minutes and no goals. Fitness issues meant Pogba also missed the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.

There is also an ongoing French police criminal investigation, launched in summer 2022, after Pogba said he was the victim of an alleged blackmail plot by an organised crime gang.

His brother Mathias Pogba was one of five people detained and placed under formal investigation. His lawyer said his client is innocent. The case is ongoing.

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