Reprieve for Arsenal target as Cas slashes doping ban
The Court of Arbitration for Sports (Cas) has reduced Cameroonian and Ajax goalkeeper, Andre Onana’s ban from 12 to nine months.
The European football association, Uefa imposed a 12-month suspension on the goalkeeper in February after he failed an out-of-competition drugs test in October last year.
Uefa's disciplinary body had said a banned substance, furosemide was found in his urine sample. Onana has not played for Cameroon or Ajax since the ban in February.
Onana said then that he had mistaken his wife's medicine for aspirin because the packaging was "almost identical" and called his ban "excessive and disproportionate" before announcing the appeal.
In a ruling delivered Thursday, the Lausanne-based sport tribunal partially upheld Uefa's sanction but reduced the one-year ban to nine months to end on November 3.
Cas said it found no “significant fault” that could be attributed to the player who ingested medication meant for another person in error, but considered a nine-month ban was appropriate to the negligence committed.
It said the panel of judges “could not accept the removal of the goalkeeper’s request for the removal of the suspension entirely.”
Onana whose contract with Ajax runs until June 30, 2022, will continue staying off all football activities.
The court however said he will resume training two months before the end of the suspension. Thus he could touch the ball again and mingle with teammates in September but would not take part in any competition until the sanction expires in November.
The reduction however means the Indomitable Lions goalkeeper will take part in the upcoming African Cup of Nations in his native Cameroon early next year.
Ajax Chief Executive Officer Edwin van der Sar said the three months reduction from the initial suspension means it was worth it taking this case to Cas.
“I will say again that we are convinced that Andre has taken this substance by accident and certainly not to perform better," Van der Sar said in a statement on the Ajax website.
"This is endorsed by all parties, also by the Uefa as is to be concluded from the cases both by the Uefa and the Cas."
"When we told our story, together with Andre and the lawyers to Cas, I drove off from The Ajax Academy with a good feeling. I have mixed feelings about today’s verdict because our aim was that he would be back playing games this," he added.
Onana has been a target for English side Arsenal with the Gunners hoping to sign him as a replacement for Bernd Leno.