Uefa has shifted the blame for Mamadou Sakho’s erroneous drugs ban on to the World Anti-Doping Agency in a damning report into last year’s failed test.
Sakho, the France and Liverpool defender who is on loan at Crystal Palace, missed the Europa League semi-final and final and the European Championship after being accused of taking an illegal substance.
He was banned for 30 days pending investigations, but under the shadow of the allegations was not considered for his country. He has not played for Liverpool since.
The centre-back admitted taking a fat-burning pill prior to Liverpool’s European tie with Manchester United in March 2016, but it was later demonstrated that the drug – a plant extract called higenamine – was not on any banned list.
In what amounts to a catalogue of errors by the administrators, Uefa made the startling admission that Sakho’s sample would not have delivered a positive result had it been sent to a different laboratory.
“Higenamine is not expressly mentioned by name on Wada’s prohibited list,” stated the Uefa report.
“The fact that the Cologne Laboratory tested for higenamine but had to check with Wada before making a determination indicates a problem, as does the fact that the Lausanne laboratory does not test for higenamine at all.
“The onus is clearly on Wada to communicate to its laboratories what is and what is not on the prohibited list. There are clearly gaps in communication with regard to higenamine, something which also tends to support the suggestion that Wada’s own internal procedure and analysis in respect of this substance is incomplete.”
The shambles will be of no consolation to Sakho, who could argue that the calamitous consequences led to him missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play in a major international tournament in his own country, and arguably triggered the end of his Liverpool career.
Liverpool were unhappy he took any substance without informing the club’s medical staff, and Sakho further infuriated manager Jürgen Klopp with breaches of discipline last summer. That breakdown in trust undoubtedly contributed to his being made available for transfer. He is currently thriving at Selhurst Park, ineligible for the trip to his parent club on Sunday. Liverpool are hoping to sell Sakho for up to £30 million this summer.
Klopp, meanwhile, insists the latest round of injuries affecting his side is solely a result of misfortune as he laments the absence of ‘eight more points’ that would have kept Liverpool in the title race.
The club’s immediate ambitions remain staying in the top four, but Joel Matip and Lucas Leiva are the latest fighting for fitness.
“I think we all agree that if we could have played our first 12 or 13 for the whole season, we are only six, seven, eight points away from the very interesting region of the table,” said Klopp. “Look at the injuries we’ve had – not a lot of muscle injuries. It is not because of intensity. If it happens in the game, it is different. Lucas got a knock, not serious, played until the end, a few problems, similar with Joel [Matip].
“That’s the situation; Adam [Lallana], Daniel [Sturridge] and so on, lots of different things. A lot of problems, Ragnar [Klavan] was because of contact in training. Sadio Mané is a long-term injury because you saw what happened – it’s not about day-to-day training. The best word to describe this is ‘unlucky’.”
Klopp has reiterated that Liverpool will not be joining the chase for England goalkeeper Joe Hart, insisting that Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius remain his short and long-term choices.