Napoli winger Daniele Mannini and striker Davide Possanzini have been banned for a year after arriving late for a drugs test when playing for Serie B side Brescia, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said on Thursday.
The pair, who were late for a doping test at a match against Chievo in Dec. 2007, were banned for 15 days in March by an Italian Olympic Committee judge but the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) appealed to CAS and asked for tougher sentences.
Mannini, 25, signed for Serie A side Napoli in January last year and has contributed to their impressive recent form.
The severity of the punishments prompted criticism from the Italian Footballers' Association (AIC) and Mannini's lawyer was stunned by the decision.
"It is a shocking and unbelievable sentence," Mattia Grassani told the ANSA news agency. "Mannini and Possanzini have been treated...like full-blown doping athletes. They never took doping substances. CAS knows this."
Italian soccer federation chief Giancarlo Abete told reporters he was perplexed by a sentence that seemed excessive to him and the AIC expressed indignation.
"The AIC Management Board will be immediately called to decide on what initiatives can be taken as a sign of protest at a sentence that is unacceptable, disproportionate with respect to the length of a footballer's career, unjustified from all points of view," said a statement on the association's website