2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) title hopefuls Ivory Coast were dealt a blow on the eve of their first game at the tournament as first-choice goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo was ruled out for doping.
The Ivorian Football Federation revealed news of the Fifa-imposed ban on Tuesday, 24 hours before the Elephants play Equatorial Guinea in their opening group game in the Cameroonian city of Douala.
“Fifa can confirm that its Disciplinary Committee has provisionally suspended Sylvain Gbohouo on the grounds of doping,” a spokesperson for football’s world governing body told AFP.
The 33-year-old started all six matches in the group stage of African qualifying for this year’s World Cup, including most recently a decisive 1-0 defeat in Cameroon in November.
He was their first-choice goalkeeper at the 2019 Cup of Nations and appeared in every game bar the final when the Ivory Coast won the continental title in 2015.
“He tested positive after the game here two months ago and we appealed immediately,” said Ivory Coast’s French coach, Patrice Beaumelle, at a press conference in Douala.
Beaumelle revealed he had asked Gbohouo to see an optician because he was struggling to deal with long balls, and that the goalkeeper was then prescribed treatment.
“That was the end of it, but then he tested positive in November, although they didn’t find what medication caused it.
“We all support him. He has been training on his own, has not been sleeping or eating and has lost weight.
“We were hoping for a positive outcome but I discovered last night that Fifa were upholding the ban and that we have 20 days to appeal, which we have done.”