Ivory Coast star handed 18-month ban

World News

2023 Africa Cup of Nations hosts Ivory Coast have been dealt a major blow ahead of the tournament after one of their stars was slapped with an 18-month ban by FIFA.

Goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo has been found guilty of a doping violation after testing positive for a prohibited substance, trimetazidine, last year.

According to BBC Sport Africa, the substance is considered a stimulant by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

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The Wolkite Ketema star's positive test came after the Elephants' 2022 World Cup qualifier against Cameroon on 16 November 2021, with the 33-year-old missing the 2021 Afcon in Cameroon earlier this year as he had been provisionally suspended in December pending the official ban.

"As a result of the presence of the prohibited substance in his sample, the player was found to be in violation of article six of the FIFA Anti-Doping regulations," FIFA said in a statement on their official website on Monday.

In his defence, the player argued that the substance found in his sample was prescribed medicine he took after an appointment with the Ivorian football Federation's (FIF) opthalmologist in March 2021.

Gbohouo claimed that, after an eye examination, he was told to take the medication, which contains trimetazidine, to improve his retinal blood flow, but the shot-stopper quit the treatment midway through a three-month course when he realised there was no improvement.

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The FIF backed their decision to take the player to an eye specialist, stating that "good eyesight is essential" for goalkeepers.

FIFA later ruled that the 65-capped Ivorian had unintentionally doped, however, and then reduced his ban from the standard four years to two years.

That period was later sliced by six months after Gbohouo fully co-operated with FIFA investigators and provided all the necessary evidence for his case.

With the ban having been backdated to 23 December 2022, the goalkeeper will only be allowed to play again on 24 June 2023, a day after the next Afcon kicks off in his home nation.

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