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World Cup winner Paul Pogba, once one of the world's top midfielders, banned 4 years for doping

Pogba said in a statement he believes “the verdict is incorrect.” He plans to appeal to the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Paul Pogba of Juventus
Paul Pogba of Juventus during an Italian league match between Juventus and Bologna at Allianz Stadium in Turin on Aug. 27.Daniele Badolato / Juventus FC via Getty Images file
/ Source: The Associated Press

ROME — It’s looking more and more like Paul Pogba’s career is heading to a premature end.

Once one of the world’s top midfielders, Pogba was banned for the maximum four years by Italy’s anti-doping court on Thursday after the World Cup winner tested positive for testosterone while at Juventus.

Even though Pogba said he would appeal to the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport, the verdict is unlikely to be overturned by the France international — who turns 31 next month — because he didn’t demonstrate any mitigating reasons for his failed test.

The positive result was announced in September, stemming from an exam that was carried out on Aug. 20 after Juventus’ game at Udinese. Pogba did not play in the Serie A match but was on the bench.

Pogba opted not to make a plea bargain with Italy’s anti-doping agency so the case was tried before the country’s anti-doping court. A person with direct knowledge of the case confirmed the verdict to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the sentence was not made public due to Italy’s privacy laws.

Pogba said in a statement he believes “the verdict is incorrect.”

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

It could take a full year for a CAS verdict — at least that’s the typical timeline unless one party pushes for a fast-track process and the other side agrees to it.

Four-year bans are standard under the world anti-doping code but can be reduced in cases where an athlete can prove their doping was not intentional, if the positive test was a result of contamination or if they provide “substantial assistance” to help investigators.

Pogba was known for his versatility, physicality and eye for the goal. When he returned to Manchester United in 2016, the club paid Juventus a then world-record transfer fee of 105 million euros ($113 million).

Pogba rejoined Juventus in 2022 but struggled with injuries, playing in only six Serie A matches last season and two this season. He was ruled out of France’s run to the 2022 World Cup final due to a knee injury.

Pogba helped France win the previous World Cup, scoring in the 4-2 win over Croatia in the final. He played in 178 matches for Juventus from 2012-16.

“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,” Pogba said.

Pogba’s contract with Juventus was slated to expire in June 2026 but it could now be terminated early. The Turin club had no immediate comment on the sentence.

The doping case follows a police investigation ongoing in France into allegations that Pogba was targeted by extortionists — including his older brother Mathias, who has denied any wrongdoing.