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Keita Balde: World Cup blow as Senegal forward handed three-month ban over anti-doping test violation

22:17 GMT+3 17/09/2022
Keita Balde Cagliari Venezia Serie A
The Spartak Moscow striker will sit out 90 days after breaking protocol when at Serie A side Cagliari in April

Senegal forward Keita Balde could miss the World Cup after being suspended for three months over an anti-doping test violation.

The incident occurred on April 3 this year while he was at Serie A side Cagliari when he broke protocol after the club’s 5-1 loss to Udinese.

Although the sample showed no signs of banned substances, the Senegal international is nonetheless penalised for breaking the strict protocol around the test.

It means the forward, who signed for Russian side Spartak Moscow as a free agent this summer, must sit out a 90-day ban that will expire on December 5, in all official matches.

Until then, the former Inter Milan and Lazio striker will have to sit out Spartak’s matches while it remains to be seen if Senegal coach Aliou Cisse will include him in their World Cup squad given he will only be eligible to play two weeks after the tournament would have already started.

Keita has made just one appearance for his new side, coming on as a second-half substitute in Spartak’s 2-1 loss to Zenit St Petersburg on September 4.

Spartak unveiled Balde with a hilarious tweet making fun of Barcelona’s financial woes last month after signing a three-year contract.

“Registered a new signing without any problems...Jealous, @FCBarcelona?” Spartak said via a social media post while announcing Keita’s signing.

Balde joined Spartak after one season at Cagliari that just yielded two goals in 22 matches as the Sardinian club were relegated from the Serie A in May.

The Senegal forward spent most of his career in Italy, starting out at Lazio where he had a four-year spell from 2013-2017, scoring 31 goals in 137 games.

He then moved to Ligue 1 side AS Monaco in August 2017 for a reported €30 million transfer fee and signed a five-year contract but returned to Italy two years later, joining Inter Milan on loan after making 59 appearances while scoring 16 goals.

Another loan spell to Sampdoria then followed which saw him play 26 times, managing seven goals before switching to Cagliari ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

The Spanish-born striker has 40 caps for Senegal, scoring six goals, and was part of the Teranga Lions squad that won the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon in February.