The Ajax goalkeeper is currently suspended for 12 months but hopes to have that overturned or reduced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport
Andre Onana has had his appeal over his 12-month doping ban heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), with Arsenal watching developments closely.
Onana spoke during the virtual hearing to explain why he believes the current suspension, which began in February, should be overturned or reduced.
But representatives of UEFA also had their say and called for CAS to stick with the original verdict of a year-long suspension, which will see the Ajax goalkeeper sidelined until February, 2022.
Why is Onana suspended?
Onana was banned for 12-months by UEFA after he tested positive for Furosemide following an out-of-competition test.
Onana has always maintained that he accidentally took medicine that was prescribed for his wife and the Dutch Association of Professional Footballers (VVCS) condemned the length of the ban as “disproportionate” and “incomprehensible”.
But UEFA remain adamant that the suspension is warranted, with the terms of Onana’s ban meaning he is unable to even train with Ajax.
So he has been working with his own personal goalkeeping coach on pitches owned by a local amateur club in Amsterdam during the past few months to try and stay in shape.
What happened on Wednesday?
Onana has appealed his suspension and on Wednesday that appeal was heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The hearing took place virtually and lasted for four hours, with Onana supporters by his lawyers, an Ajax club doctor and Ajax chief executive Edwin van der Sar.
The Cameroon international explained to the hearing once again that the drug – that was meant for his wife – had been taken in error and spoke about the damage the incident had done to himself and his family.
Onana’s team hope to have the 12-month ban overturned or at least reduced to six or eight months.
But UEFA want the original sanction to remain and representatives told the hearing that Onana had been negligent and the incident wasn’t down to ‘bad luck’.
What happens now?
It is not yet clear when CAS will deliver its verdict on the Onana case.
But there is a hope within the goalkeeper’s camp that a result could be delivered within the next week.
And should the keeper be successful in at least having the ban reduced, it will significantly raise the prospect of him leaving Ajax during the summer transfer window.
An eight-month ban would allow Onana to start training with a team again in June and would allow him to start playing again in August.
What’s going on with Arsenal?
Arsenal are keeping close tabs on Onana’s appeal hearing, with the Gunners keen on signing the keeper this summer as doubts over Bernd Leno’s long-term future increase.
The interest in Onana stretches back to last January when contact was made between the north London club and the player’s representatives.
Arsenal were on the look-out for a keeper following the departure of Emiliano Martinez in September and the underwhelming form of summer recruit Alex Runarsson.
Technical director Edu and manager Mikel Arteta are big admirers of Onana, as revealed by Goal in April, but financial issues prevented Arsenal from making a firm offer in January, with the Gunners instead opting to sign Mat Ryan on loan from Brighton for the remainder of the season.
A lot will now rest on the verdict delivered by CAS.
Should Onana be successful in his appeal and have his suspension reduced to eight months, he would be allowed to start training with a team again in June, two months before he would be available to start playing again.
How much would he cost?
If Onana’s suspension is reduced, Arsenal would be hoping to pay around £7 million ($9.7m) for the keeper, who will be out of contract in 2022.
The Gunners are not the only club keeping close tabs on the 25-year-old’s situation, with interest also coming from sides in Germany and France.