Provisionally suspended since Monday September 11, international football player Paul Pogba is suspected of doping and more precisely of having taken testosterone. What is this molecule? Explanations from Dr Noamane Moudden, sports doctor at the Drouot clinic in Paris.
New business for French football player Paul Pogba. He was suspended Monday September 11, after “have tested positive for testosterone, following an anti-doping control” announces the Italian Anti-Doping Agency. Paul Pogba is accused of having taken the molecule before the first match of the season for his club, Juventus Turin, against Udine, on August 20.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone present in both women and men. However, it is present in much greater quantities in the latter, because testosterone is mainly produced by the testicles.
It is testosterone which allows the development of masculine attributes such as musculature or voice. Why is it taken by athletes then? “Testosterone helps develop muscle density, mass and strength. first indicates Dr Noamane Moudden, sports doctor at the Drouot clinic in Paris. “It also gives the impression of faster muscle recovery.”
Can we recognize natural testosterone from synthetic testosterone?
“There are many kinds of testosterone, so it all depends on which one we are talking about, but overall yes, it is possible to distinguish between endogenous testosterone, that is to say produced by the body, from that called exogenous, by certain tests“adds the doctor.”Where it gets complicated is that some people take natural testosterone.”.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfc) September 11, 2023
How is the dosage carried out in high-level athletes?
It must first be clarified that taking testosterone is not prohibited. “The only prohibition lies in the context of a competition where the molecule will be banned. It is still a taboo in Europe, unlike in the United States where the culture of taking hormones is much more widespread, but testosterone is nevertheless commonly consumed in the world of amateur sport, among bodybuilders, but not only. It’s a French paradox: it’s very difficult to get it prescribed by an endocrinologist, except for specific medical reasons, but it’s available everywhere on the Internet!” denounces the doctor.
In the context of anti-doping control, the authorities are not authorized to be invasive. “This is once again hypocritical: we are much more efficient at measuring it in the blood, but we use urine” denounces Dr. Moudden again. “You then have to do intellectual pirouettes to calculate the exact levels: via urine, the measurement is much less precise and subject to interpretation.“.
Is it possible to take testosterone by mistake?
According to the doctor, taking testosterone cannot be accidental. “It is not a molecule that is common in the streets, we cannot compare it to certain common drugs, for example like cannabis, so no, we cannot take it accidentally.” estimates the specialist.
“On the other hand, the levels of the hormone vary over time and it is easy to make a scandal over a level that is not so high and, on the contrary, downplay a high level. This is also due to the context, in this case, to the situation current and here, to the personality of the footballer, in my opinion“.
Regardless, Paul Pogba faces a four-year suspension following this scandal. A hard blow which could put a definitive end to the career of the former 2018 world champion, already 30 years old.