ROME - Juventus and France midfielder Paul Pogba has been provisionally suspended after a doping control detected elevated levels of testosterone, Italian anti-doping authorities (Nado) told AFP on Monday.
After a nightmare season between injuries and a blackmail affair, the 30-year-old's dreams of bouncing back were shattered by the alleged doping offence after Juventus's 3-0 win at Udinese on Aug 20, during which he was an unused substitute.
On Monday, the 2018 world champion had told Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera of his "desire to play" after a "difficult year" which could have "destroyed" him.
Instead he received a new blow.
Nado said Pogba had violated anti-doping rules when they found the prohibited substance "non-endogenous testosterone metabolites".
Juventus said in a statement that Pogba had "received a precautionary suspension".
"The club reserves the right to consider the next procedural steps," the statement added.
The test concerns the 'A' sample, and if the 'B' sample also tests positive for testosterone Pogba could face a four-year ban.
In a message sent to AFP, Pogba's agent Rafaela Pimenta said she was "awaiting the second sample and cannot have an opinion before the results".
"What is certain is that Paul Pogba never wanted to break a rule," she added.
Pogba rejoined Juventus in July 2022 from Manchester United.
From 2012 to 2016 he had helped Juve win four Serie A titles and two Italian Cups, and reach the Champions League final in 2015.
Pogba had been a star player in France's 2018 World Cup triumph but his 2022-2023 season was blighted by injury and a multi-million euro blackmail plot involving childhood friends and one of his brothers.
He played just ten games for Juventus that season and missed the 2022 World Cup with France.
Last season he played six Serie A games but had been slated for a return to action against Lazio at the weekend and said in the interview with Al Jazeera he was raring to go.
"I've had a difficult year so I've this anger and this wish to play football," Pogba told Al Jazeera.
"The only people that can hurt you are the people close to you. Enemies you know where they are, but friends, family, that you think they're happy for you, they can destroy you," he said.
"You have to be careful, money change people, can break up a family," he said of the multimillion euros extortion efforts by former friends and his own brother Mattias.
Pogba said that at times he had been deeply demotivated by the matter.
"I was just by myself thinking I don't want to have money anymore, I don't want to play anymore, I just want to be with normal people, so they will love me for me, not for the fame, not for the money," he said.
After this latest setback Pogba now faces an anxious wait for the result of his 'B' test.