Ivorian international Sylvain Gbohouo, suspended for doping, feels very lonely


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Sylvain Gbohouo, goalkeeper of Ivory Coast, African champions in 2015, was suspended by FIFA last December after testing positive for trimetazidine. He had been prescribed Vastarel to treat poor blood circulation in his right eye. According to the French sports doctor Jean-Pierre de Mondenard, trimetazidine would have absolutely nothing of a doping product. This is disputed by Doctor Olivier Rabin, scientific director of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Sylvain Gbohouo, who no longer has a prospect, risks four years of suspension.

I trusted the doctors of the selection who obviously did not do their job. They should have checked what they prescribed me in the hospital (an ophthalmologist asked him to take Vastarel, editor’s note). They had to know if it was good or not in case of doping control “, tells us with bitterness Sylvain Gbohouo.

This case has been dragging on for five months »

Sylvain Gbohouo, 33, had an eye exam in March 2021 and the ophthalmologist diagnosed him with poor blood circulation in his right eye. ” For me, I had no symptoms. This case has been dragging on for five months and I am still awaiting the final decision. I have no further news from the federation. As there have been elections, I hope that the new president (Idriss Diallo was elected on Saturday April 23 at the head of the Ivorian Football Federation (FIF), Editor’s note) will try to understand what happened and help me out of this situation he said calmly.

Like the selection, the Ethiopian club of Wolkite City FC also remained silent. Sylvain Gbohouo, who could not compete in the last CAN in Cameroon, feels alone and abandoned. Some teammates of the selection still heard from him. His CAN qualification bonus was never paid to him. He hopes today that the members of FIFA will have listened to his version of April 27, and will consider that he is not guilty of this positive test. ” I know that according to the regulations, I am responsible for the medications I take. My goal today is to get back to the football pitches as soon as possible. “, he hopes.

Doping product: WADA’s list cannot be challenged

The World Anti-Doping Code says that a substance can be classified as doping based on three criteria: performance enhancement or performance enhancement potential, potential health risk, and violation of the mind of the sport. At least two of the three criteria must be met for a substance to be classified as a dopantexplains Olivier Rabin in the preamble. The World Anti-Doping Code also says that when a substance is on the list, it cannot be challenged. The athlete and his entourage must have known that trimetazidine is a prohibited molecule since it is on the WADA list. We issue rules, and we distribute them widely to sports federations, national anti-doping agencies and governments. The list is made public no later than October 1 of each year for entry into force on January 1 of the following year. »

A Russian study published in January 2020 in theAsian Journal of Sports Medicine fell ” a lack of evidence in support of WADA’s ban on trimetazidine like meldonium, xenon or cobalt. ” Expert opinion may be subjective or biased, and therefore has low probative value “, estimated the authors, urging the AMA to “ publish the data “, which it has to strengthen ” the trust of the sports community “.

As a reminder, on November 16, 2021, Côte d’Ivoire faced Cameroon in Douala, as part of the last day of qualifying for the next World Cup. The draw had designated Sylvain Gbohouo to take part in the doping test. Traces of trimetazidine were detected in the urine of the Ivorian porter. At the beginning of January, the Ivorian Football Federation confirmed the suspension of the goalkeeper, African champion in 2015who became the titular goalkeeper after the 2014 World Cup, in place of Boubacar Barry Copa.

Goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo bows with Côte d’Ivoire to Gabon in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, September 5, 2017 in Bouaké AFP

A failure in the communication of the FIF

I was informed of the result on Monday December 27: there were traces of the molecule in his urine. We provided the prescription, the doctors of the federation contacted the doctor who provided proof of the prescription. The player has not taken any medication since March 2021 “, had commented the former coach Patrice Beaumelle.

The FIFA email arrived at the federation on December 22 and Sylvain Gbohouo was only notified on the 28th. Why such a delay in communication? His B sample could have been analyzed, but the federation did not keep him informed within 48 hours to request a second opinion. A huge regret for Sylvain Gbohouo.

Sylvain Gbohouo says he stopped his treatment in April 2021, after following him for a month and a half. He felt ” tremors in the hands » and felt coming « heart trouble “. Pharmacist and toxicologist Pascal Kintz had mentioned ” many parkinsonian-type side effects” which did not seem “to be likely to favor use in athletes “, he underlined in the review Analytical and Clinical Toxicologyeven mentioning the risks of “ gait disorders », « risk of falling ” and ” hallucinations “. Unimaginable for a professional goalkeeper.

Trimetazidine wouldn’t make a snail move faster »

For Jean-Pierre de Mondenard, sports doctor and leading doping specialist, interviewed by RFI, Vastarel, a drug used to prevent angina pectoris, but also for cases of dizziness or reduced visual acuity, n nothing of a doping product: “ trimetazidine wouldn’t make a snail move faster “. Olivier Rabin indicates that trimetazidine can improve cardiac metabolism during exercise. ” This is the reason why this substance is prohibited in athletes. And besides, it’s not a Valda pellet. It is still a medicine given for angina pectoris. It’s not unusual “, he argues.

For Jean-Pierre de Mondenard, there cannot be traces of this molecule in the body beyond a week. “ I would rather tend to agree. This substance has a relatively short life in the body. But I don’t judge the cited case that I don’t know », answers Olivier Rabin.

This story is reminiscent of that of French wrestler Zelimkhan Khadjiev, who tested positive in 2019 for the same molecule and was suspended for four years. Jean-Pierre de Mondenard indicates that the pharmacist who sold this drug to Khadjiev without a prescription, which is prohibited (in France, the drug can only be prescribed by a cardiologist, editor’s note), should not generate a positive control. Since at the time, according to Jean-Pierre de Mondenard, the notice did not warn athletes in the event of doping control, an obligation since 1989 following a directive from the Ministry of Health in France. “ You have to ask the competent authorities, we have no control over the notices. It is up to the pharmaceutical laboratory to know the current regulations. I repeat, the drug is on the list of doping products and must be known to all “, insists Olivier Rabin.

In these stories, the sportsman takes four years of suspension when nobody else is worried. It is not normal. Especially for a product that is totally ineffective in terms of doping “, protests Jean-Pierre de Mondenard. ” Doctors have been implicated for giving banned substances. It is not always only the athlete who is sanctioned “, argues for his part Olivier Rabin. Today, Sylvain Gbohouo may never put on the goalkeeper gloves again.

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