Flamengo striker Gabriel “Gabigol” Barbosa has been suspended following a doping investigation in Brazil. Soccer authorities in the South American nation narrowly voted to implement the penalty in the doping fraud case. Brazil’s Anti-Doping Sports Court of Justice elected to ban Gabigol from playing professionally in a 5-4 vote.

The case surrounds a surprise drug test back on April 8th, 2023. Soccer officials went to Flamengo‘s training facilities on the day to issue tests to the entire team. While the rest of the club’s players willingly underwent testing, Gabigol reportedly stalled. According to league officials, the striker attempted to avoid the drug tests, but ultimately caved hours after his teammates.

ESPN is reporting that Gabigol’s lawyers claim that the player’s behavior had nothing to do with the actual drug test. The attorneys went on to say that a blood test should have been conducted to help clear their client. Nevertheless, the Brazilian forward can now not play professionally until April of 2025.

Striker claims to have ‘always followed the rules’ during career

Flamengo issued a statement Monday night proclaiming that they will assist Gabigol in appealing the decision. The Brazilian side also denied any fraud took place by the club or the player in the drug test. They even went as far as saying that there was “not even an attempted fraud” by the forward.

Along with the team, Gabigol also took to social media to respond to the penalty. “Since the beginning of my career as a football player, I have always followed the rules of the game and never used prohibited substances,” the striker wrote on Instagram.

“I have already been subjected to dozens of tests, all of which were always negative, which reinforces my commitment to my club and to the Brazilian fans.

“I am disappointed with the outcome of the trial, but I will continue to cooperate with the sports authorities and am confident that my innocence will be proven and re-established by the higher court.”

Gabigol has flourished in Brazil despite European struggles

Gabigol, now 27, was previously a rising star in Brazil. Following a successful spell with Santos, Inter Milan purchased the striker for just over $30 million back in 2016. The move, however, was a failure and the youngster only spent one season with the Italian side. Gabigol only managed a single goal in 10 total appearances throughout the 2016/17 campaign.

Inter subsequently loaned the forward to Benfica for the following season. Despite being one of the top teams in all of Europe to develop, Gabigol struggled. Benfica sent him back to Brazil after only six months in Portugal. Although he failed to make a good impression in Europe, the striker excelled back in his home country. Gabigol scored 27 goals for Santos in 2018 before Flamenco bought him. The Brazilian club made the forward’s transfer permanent in 2020 for around $19 million.

The doping news regarding Gabigol comes just weeks after Juventus star Paul Pogba also received a lengthy ban for a similar incident. The France international was handed a four-year suspension earlier this month for failing two separate drug tests in the fall of 2023.

Due to his age, Pogba’s career could be over following the punishment. Gabigol, on the other hand, could return to the Brazilian top flight in 2025. The striker will, however, be out of contract at the time he will be available to play again.