Shakhtar Donetsk defender Darijo Srna has been handed a 17-month ban for failing a drugs test.
Srna withdrew from first-team action after Shakhtar’s 2-1 win over Napoli in September after it emerged he had returned adverse findings in an out-of-competition test last March.
The former Croatia captain’s suspension has been backdated to when he failed the test, meaning Srna, 35, will be eligible to return to action on August 22 this year.
The National Anti-Doping Center of Ukraine (NADCU) confirmed in a statement Srna had tested positive for the steroid dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).
DHEA occurs naturally in humans but the NADCU said in a statement that the full-back’s sample had given “atypical results of the endogenous steroid”.
Srna denied knowingly taking a banned substance but agreed to take himself out of competitive football when informed of the findings.
The NADCU found “no significant guilt or negligence of the athlete in the violation” and cited this as a reason for showing a degree of leniency towards Srna in its ruling.
“After reporting the unfavourable outcome of the analysis and allegations of [an] anti-doping rule violation on September 18, 2017, Mr Srna voluntarily accepted a temporary suspension from September 22, 2017,” the statement read.
“Mr Srna acknowledged that he had violated (unintentionally) anti-doping rules. After examining the source of the adverse result of the analysis, NADC took note of Mr Srna’s explanation of the circumstances that preceded the testing, and concluded that there was no significant guilty or negligence of the athlete in the violation.”
The NADCU statement added that Srna will be allowed to resume training with Shakhtar on June 22, two months prior to his return.
Despite their captain’s absence, Shakhtar reached the last 16 of the Champions League, where they claimed a 2-1 first-leg win over Roma on Wednesday.