Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana has been handed a 12-month suspension for failing an out of competition doping test, with the club claiming their No 1 accidentally took medicine prescribed for his wife.
The Eredivisie club revealed the Cameroon international stopper has been banned by UEFA after they found the forbidden substance Furosemide in his urine, following the test in October 2020.
The doping suspension is effective from today (February 5) and applies to all football activities.
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 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 twelve 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 pen a new contract at Johan Cruyff ArenA.
What is the reaction from the Netherlands?
Goal’s Netherlands correspondent Thijs Verhaar: “First reaction: this must be a joke. After all the bad news already this week – Haller not registered, Brobbey leaving – but it’s real, so Ajax have to move on without their best man in defence, the man who saved them time after time in Europe and in the Eredivisie.
“It will be very interesting to see what [manager] Erik ten Hag will do now. They bought Kjell Scherpen 18 months ago and he’s developing well, but does he get their trust to play the big matches?
“In the Eredivisie, Ajax probably won’t lose their lead, but Europe is another matter. They already had a tough draw against Lille and this certainly doesn’t help. Onana helped his defenders to gain confidence and is a leader in the dressing room.
“Also interesting is that Onana was almost certainly leaving next summer, but this could change everything. Although Ajax will appeal the decision, so everything isn’t 100 per cent certain.”