Doping scandals have rocked the world of sports for years, casting shadows over monumental achievements and challenging the very ethos of fair play.
Football, despite its global adulation, has not remained untouched. As Paul Pogba test positive for doping test after the game against Udinese in Serie A, here’s a look at some of the most famous doping incidents that have shaken the world of football.
Doping Scandal – Diego Maradona – 1991
Arguably one of the greatest footballers ever, Diego Maradona’s fall from grace was shocking. In 1991 he tested positive for cocaine for first time, while playing for Napoli in Italy and was suspended for 15 months.
Diego Maradona 1994 World Cup
Diego Maradona, despite his fame and success, had another doping incident. He was sent home from the 1994 World Cup in the USA after ephedrine, a banned substance, was found in his system. Maradona’s exit tarnished the event and his illustrious career.
Diego Maradona – 1997
Diego Maradona had yet another doping incident in 1997. He tested positive for ephedrine while playing for Boca Juniors in Argentina and received a suspension of three months.
Doping Scandal – Nwankwo Kanu – 1995
Nigerian striker Kanu Nwankwo, playing for Inter Milan at the time, failed a drug test in 1995. He tested positive for a banned substance called probenecid and received a suspension of 15 months.
Doping Scandal – Pep Guardiola – 2001
Before becoming a renowned manager, Pep Guardiola was a successful player. However, in 2001, while playing for Brescia in Italy, Guardiola tested positive for the banned substance nandrolone. Although he vehemently denied the allegations, he received a four-month ban.
Doping Scandal – Edgar Davids – 2001
Dutch midfielder Edgar Davids tested positive for the banned substance nandrolone in 2001. He received a suspension of four months while playing for Juventus.
Doping Scandal – Jaap Stam – 2001
Another big name to test positive for nandrolone in 2001 was Dutch defender Jaap Stam. Playing for Lazio at the time, Stam faced a suspension, which he attributed to contaminated supplements.
Fernando Couto – 2001
2001 seems to be a particularly controversial year in football. Lazio faced another blow when Portuguese defender Fernando Couto was suspended for testing positive for nandrolone.
Rio Ferdinand – 2003
In 2003, Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand missed a routine drug test. He was later banned for eight months for failing to provide a sample.
Rio Ferdinand – 2013
Rio Ferdinand faced another doping controversy in 2013. He accidentally missed a drug test while playing for Queens Park Rangers, leading to a suspension of one game and a £25,000 fine.
Adrian Mutu – 2004
Romanian striker Adrian Mutu’s promising career took a hit when he tested positive for cocaine while playing for Chelsea. The club sacked him, and he faced a seven-month ban.
Kolo Touré – 2011
The Ivorian defender, playing for Manchester City at the time, received a six-month ban after testing positive for a banned substance found in diet pills. Touré claimed he had taken his wife’s diet pills unknowingly.
Mamadou Sakho – 2016
The Liverpool defender faced allegations of doping after a Europa League game. Though UEFA initially imposed a 30-day suspension, they later cleared Sakho of all charges, citing issues with the testing process.
Andre Onana – 2021
André Onana, the Cameroonian goalkeeper for Ajax, was involved in a doping case in February 2021. Onana tested positive for the banned substance furosemide during an out-of-competition check conducted by UEFA.
In June 2021, the UEFA Appeals Body reduced André Onana’s suspension from twelve months to nine months after considering the circumstances surrounding the case.
We can remember – Magnus Hedman, Abel Xavier, Christophe Dugarry, Samir Nasri, Fred and many others.
Doping scandals are a stark reminder that no sport, regardless of its global standing, is immune to issues of ethics and fair play.
As technology and testing methods improve, footballing bodies worldwide must remain vigilant to ensure the integrity of the beautiful game. The cases above, involving renowned names, underscore the importance of continued education and stringent testing to keep the sport clean.