Pogba receives sporting life sentence: How can he escape?

The Italian Prosecution has demanded Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba serve a four-year ban. This stern punishment might seem more akin to individual sports rather than team games, much like the one served by motorcyclist Andrea Iannone, who was found positive for Drostanolone, a prohibited anabolic steroid, in an anti-doping screening carried out on 3rd November 2019 in Malaysia.

Response to this severe demand has garnered significant media attention. Here are some of the key reactions:

In his article for Corriere dello Sport titled ‘Justice without Measure’, Alessandro Barbano argues that “A four-year ban for an athlete who is 30 years old is equivalent to being struck off. This is what the anti-doping prosecutor asked for. However, on what does such severity rest? Under the microscope of ordinary law, Pogba’s is little more than an objective responsibility. He tested positive for testosterone and that is enough. An alleged culprit that is offered bargaining, which halves the punishment. But for a footballer of his age, the discount of two years is almost irrelevant. It is normal that Pogba has rejected it.”

Xavier Jacobelli, in an early assessment on Radio Bianconera and proposed by Tuttosport, stated, “In my view, this does not make sense. We will see what happens, there are precedents like that of Palomino who was exonerated in the end, and I hope that normal proceedings allow Pogba to defend himself, considering that four years of disqualification is equivalent to a sporting life sentence for a footballer who indeed made a mistake, but was not acting in bad faith.”

L’Équipe cites that “In the absence of an agreement with sports justice, Paul Pogba will have to demonstrate his good faith”. The fate of Didier Deschamps’ 2018 World Cup finals goalscorer hinges upon a trial set to take place in mid-January 2024. As La Gazzetta dello Sport reports, the footballer will attempt to showcase the absence of malice through scientific experts and will appeal to the CAS – Court of Arbitration for Sport, and subsequent to that, the Swiss Federal Court, should the decision fall against his favour. However, this could signify an arduous task thereby resulting in a sentence within a sentence. This process is pegged to be a long one with a potential TAS sentence only possibly arriving by late 2025.

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