Malian footballers Mohamed Camara and Sekou Koita were suspended by Europe’s football governing body, UEFA, after the two returned positive doping tests, their club Red Bull Salzburg announced.
“Mohamed Camara and Sekou Koita are to be suspended for three months. This suspension is effective immediately and covers all club and international football activities,” the Austrian club said in a statement on its website.
“Today’s decision was based on a doping investigation conducted by UEFA on positive results the two players were informed about in the middle of December,” it added.
According to the statement, the players were away on international duty for Mali when they took medicine from a doctor to deal with altitude sickness in the Namibian capital Windhoek. The medicine contained a substance which is in a list of banned substances.
The doctor responsible for administering the medicine was subsequently suspended by Mali’s football federation.
With that in mind, UEFA ruled there had been no intention of doping, but it maintained that an athlete always had a duty to ensure no banned substances enter their body.
Camara and Koita, both 21, will be unavailable for the West African side for their Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Guinea and Chad in March. Mali, however, has already qualified for the tournament.
Koita took to social media to reaffirm his innocence adding that he was “relieved” UEFA took into accounts the facts of the case against him.
He further urged all footballers, especially younger players, to be “extremely careful” with any products given to them by their teams’ medical staff.
RB Salzburg General manager Stephan Reiter said the decision was a difficult one for the team, but they were prepared to cope with it.
‘We are pleased that there is now clarity in this matter, and we know the result. This is still a real blow for us, of course. While we were not at fault in the situation in any way at all, we are not unprepared, as we have geared our squad accordingly.”
Camara and Koita are the latest African footballers to be sanctioned by UEFA for doping violations. Cameroon and Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana was banned by UEFA for one year after a banned substance, Furosemide, was found in his urine.