Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba handed four-year ban for a doping offence; ex-Man Utd player is banned until August 2027, when he will be aged 34, raising doubts over whether his career will continue after that; Sky Sports News’ senior reporter Geraint Hughes answers the key questions.

Juventus and France midfielder Paul Pogba said he was “sad, shocked and heartbroken” after being banned from football for four years for a doping offence.

The former Manchester United player was provisionally suspended by Italy’s national anti-doping tribunal in September after testing positive for DHEA – a compound that promotes the production of hormones in the body including testosterone – following Juve’s Serie A match with Udinese on August 20, where he was an unused substitute.

And, after the failed test was confirmed by Italian anti-doping body NADO in a second sample in October, the four-year suspension requested by the prosecutor’s office was granted on Thursday.

The ruling means the France international is banned until August 2027, when he will be aged 34, raising doubts over whether his career will continue after that.

How did we get to this stage?


We’ve got there because he failed a standard doping test. It goes through a process with anti-doping.

The Italian national anti-doping agency is signed up to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code. It is part of the family of national associations who make up the world anti-doping agency and they abide by the protocols and banned list of illegal substances that any athlete cannot ingest. They are illegal and these substances are set out and reviewed. It is set out very, very clearly.

There was the opportunity of a plea bargain with the Italian authorities which Pogba chose not to go down that route because he clearly believes he is not guilty of this charge. The Italian national agency went through the courts and the tribunal there, concluding with this four-year ban on Thursday.

Why is it a four-year ban for Pogba?

That is the standard ban handed down by WADA and the code. It can come down with mitigating circumstances.

You can understand the emotional side of it, the sadness, the disappointment, the heartfelt nature of what has gone before in his career and what may come back. But he said in his statement he was shocked. He shouldn’t necessarily be shocked because the process, when it comes to anti-doping, it is very, very clear and structural.

Paul Pogba will not be treated any differently than any other athlete, no matter if it’s football, rugby, cricket, golf, a sprinter or a swimmer, every sport on the planet you can think of.

Does it matter that Pogba said he was not aware he was breaking the rules?


In his statement on Thursday, he used the words: ‘I have never knowingly or deliberately taken a substance’. Yes, you can understand the emotional side of that if he has accidentally taken something. It doesn’t matter.

Strict liability of any athlete – of any sport, of any gender – what goes into your body is solely down to Paul Pogba, as it is any other athlete. It doesn’t matter if it’s Paul Pogba, those are the rules.

What options does Pogba have now?


He has another option now where he can appeal to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS). We have heard so much over the last decade where athletes and teams have taken complaints or appeals to CAS.

They will go through everything. They are an appeal court for an athlete or an organisation and they will go through the Pogba case and will determine whether the sanction handed down was compliant with the rules of WADA.

WADA are very clear as well. With this going to CAS, if they were to uphold an appeal by Pogba and agree with him, then WADA would have a right to appeal. It could eventually not just end up at the CAS court but it could also end up in the Swiss courts – as CAS comes under the jurisdiction of the Swiss federal courts.

So this could have quite a long way to run if CAS agree with Paul Pogba. If they don’t and they agree with the sanction handed down by the Italian national doping agency, then his case becomes diminished.

Many, many athletes have been in this position before and it’s a difficult and challenging time for him now. If the CAS doesn’t go his way, he doesn’t have a lot of manoeuvrability after that.

If Pogba fails in his appeal, is his career over?


French football expert Jonathan Johnson speaking to Sky Sports News:

If the suspension is confirmed for that amount of time, I think he’ll look back on his career and be satisfied with what he achieved with his country, although there will be a feeling that he should have won at least one Euros title.

But if you’re Pogba, the priority is not to be drawing a line under your career, doing your best to get yourself back on the pitch and getting that ban cut down by at least a year. If he tried to come back at 32 or 33, it might be a bit more doable than 34 or 35.

The debate is valid. Yes, he has won the World Cup and been a fantastic player in his day, arguably better at international level than club level if we’re talking about consistency.

But I do think this is a talent we forever talk about as being unfulfilled. Maybe there will be a couple of years left in his career, but there is an overwhelming feeling that even before this suspension, Pogba was always going to be one of those players who could have won it all, picked up the biggest individual accolades going, but never quite lived up to his natural talent and the hype that surrounded him at the beginning of his career.

And there’s an expectation that if the ban is confirmed for any duration of time, Juventus will probably terminate his contract. We will have to wait for the final sanction to be handed down before that decision is made, but there certainly is a feeling in France that it will end up happening.

The timeline of Pogba’s doping offence…

August 20, 2023 – Pogba is an unused substitute in Juventus’ match with Udinese. He takes a standard doping test after the game and tests positive for Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) – a compound that promotes the production of hormones in the body including testosterone.

August 27 and September 3, 2023: Pogba appears as a second-half substitute in Juventus’ next two matches against Bologna and Empoli.

September 2023: Pogba’s failed test is announced and he is suspended by Juventus as a precaution. Pogba asks for a counter-analysis on the original test.

October 2023: The results of the test comes back as positive. Sky Sports News reports that Pogba will attempt to clear his name. Pogba’s agent Rafaela Pimenta insisted “Paul never wanted to break the rules”.

December 2023: Anti-doping prosecutors in Italy requested the maximum four-year ban following his positive doping test. This is the standard length for any anti-doping breach under the WADA code. Pogba has the option to make a plea bargain but opts not to, meaning the case is tried before the country’s anti-doping court.

February 2024: Italy’s National Anti-Doping Tribunal (TNA) accepted the request of the Anti-Doping Prosecutor’s Office to hand out the four-year ban. In a statement, Pogba reveals his desire to appeal against this with CAS. If he is successful in the appeal, WADA have the right to appeal against that call. If so, that appeal could be heard by the Swiss federal courts.

August 2027: Pogba’s ban runs from the moment he first tested positive, meaning he is out of action until August 2027. He will be 34 when he returns, turning 35 in March 2028.

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