Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana has been handed a 12-month suspension for failing an out-of-competition doping test, with the club claiming their number one accidentally took medicine prescribed for his wife.
The Eredivisie club revealed the Cameroon international has been banned by UEFA after it found the forbidden substance Furosemide in his urine, following the test in October 2020.
The doping suspension is effective from February 5 and applies to all football activities.
Why did Onana fail his doping test?
A statement on the Ajax website says: "On the morning of October 30, Onana was feeling unwell. He wanted to take a pill to ease the discomfort. Unknowingly, however, he took Lasimac, a drug that his wife had previously been prescribed.
"Onana’s confusion resulted in him mistakenly taking his wife's medicine, ultimately causing this measure to be taken by UEFA against the goalkeeper.
"Furthermore, the disciplinary body of the football association has stated that Onana had no intention of cheating. However, the European Football Association believes, on the basis of the applicable anti-doping rules, that an athlete has a duty at all times to ensure that no banned substances enter the body."
The Dutch club, currently seven points clear at the top of the Eredivisie, confirmed they will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
What has Onana said about the ban?
What has been Ajax's reaction?
Ajax managing director and former goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar said: “We explicitly renounce performance-enhancing drugs, we obviously stand for a clean sport.
"This is a terrible setback, for Andre himself but certainly also for us as a club. Andre is a top goalkeeper, who has proven his worth for Ajax for years and is very popular with the fans.
"We had hoped for a conditional suspension or for a suspension much shorter than these 12 months, because it was arguably not intended to strengthen his body and thus improve his performance.”
Which tournaments will Onana miss?
Onana is banned from all football, meaning he will not be available for Ajax's domestic or European matches, including their Europa League campaign this season. They face Lille in the last 32 later this month.
He will also be unavailable for Cameroon until February 2022, including the Africa Cup of Nations - should they qualify - which has been rescheduled to January next year. The final two games of their qualifying campaign are in March, away to Cape Verde and home to Rwanda.
What does this mean for Onana's future?
The 24-year-old former Barcelona youngster has been among the most in-demand goalkeepers in European football, with Borussia Dortmund recently making plans to sign him at the end of the season.
Onana, whose contract at Ajax expires in 2022, has also been a target for Chelsea, Tottenham, and his former club at Camp Nou.
It adds to a bad week for Ajax, who on Friday morning also confirmed that record signing Sebastian Haller is unavailable for their Europa League fixtures for the rest of the season after an administration error meant he was not registered in their squad in time.
They will also lose promising young striker Brian Brobbey in the summer, with it confirmed this week that the 19-year-old will not sign a new contract at Johan Cruyff ArenA.
The Goal View | Thijs Verhaar | Editor Goal Netherlands
"It almost seems like a bad joke. Ajax had already received bad news this week with Sebastien Haller having not been registered for the Europa League and Brian Brobbey leaving the club, now they’ll have to do without their best defensive player, Andre Onana. The goalkeeper has saved them time after time in the Eredivisie and in Europe, and it will be interesting to see what head coach Erik ten Hag will do now.
"Ajax bought 21-year-old Kjell Scherpen a year-and-a-half ago and he's developing well but has he earned enough trust to play in the big matches? The alternative is veteran former Fulham goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, who has patiently waited for his big chance and it could now be here. Dominik Kotarski is also on the books at the Dutch club but is the third choice in the pecking order. He was initially touted as a huge talent but his development has stagnated and it’s unlikely he’ll be thrown into the starting XI at this stage.
"In the Eredivisie, Ajax are unlikely to lose their seven-point lead at the top of the table but in Europe the absence of Onana is a massive problem. The club had already been handed a tough draw against Lille and the Cameroonian’s suspension doesn’t help matters. The presence of the 24-year-old lifts the defence and helps them gain confidence and Ajax are undoubtedly losing a leader in the dressing room.
"It’s also worth noting that Onana was almost certainly going to leave the club in the summer of 2021 but this ban could change everything. That said, Ajax will appeal the decision so it’s unlikely this will be the end of the story."