Brazil’s Gabigol handed two-year ban for anti-doping ‘fraud’

Flamengo’s international forward Gabriel Barbosa was suspended for two years on Monday for attempted fraud during a doping test, a Brazilian sports court said.

Known as Gabigol, the 27-year-old Brazilian was alleged to have been uncooperative during a surprise doping test at club headquarters in Rio de Janeiro.

The punishment, which can be appealed, is backdated to April 8 last year, when the events occurred.

He failed to comply with the schedule, disrespected the doping officers and refused to obey instructions, local media said.

“The aforementioned athlete was tried today by the Full Court of Sports Anti- Doping and, by majority, it was decided that a violation of the anti-doping rule of fraud had occurred,” the court said in a statement sent to AFP.

Gabigol subsequently hit back on social media, saying “I never tried to obstruct or defraud any test.”

“I am confident I will be found innocent at the highest court,” he added.

Flamengo said in a statement it would support its player and assist with his appeal “because there was no type of fraud”.

On the testing day, Gabigol’s teammates underwent testing in the morning while he ignored a request to be present and attended after lunchtime, according to the accusation.

When he finally arrived to be tested, he reportedly became upset because an officer escorted him to the bathroom.

Furthermore, he did not respect the sample collection protocol, according to the accusation.

A key figure in Flamengo’s 2019 domestic league and Copa Libertadores titles, Gabigol has consistently denied having tried to cheat in the test.

“The Flamengo player has confirmed that the test has been carried out and the result was negative,” his lawyer said in December, when the allegations first surfaced.

“In view of this information, there is nothing that could compromise or violate the protocol,” the lawyer added.

Gabigol had disappointing spells at Portugal’s Benfica as well as at Inter Milan in Italy having come through Santos’ academy, before joining Flamengo in 2019.

His return to form for Flamengo earned him call-ups to the Brazil squad and he made the last of his 18 international appearances in January 2022.

Gabigol’s contract with Flamengo expires in December. BSS

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