Saturday 1 October 2016

Shock as Liverpool ace Mamadou Sakho fails UEFA drugs test after Old Trafford tie

Andy hunter

Published 24/04/2016 | 02:30

Liverpool's Mamadou Sakho (top centre) signs a programme for a fan in the stands sitting next to Liverpool's Zaire-born Belgian striker Christian Benteke). The French defender is being investigated by UEFA over a possible anti-doping rule violation. Photo: Paul Ellis/AFP
Liverpool's Mamadou Sakho (top centre) signs a programme for a fan in the stands sitting next to Liverpool's Zaire-born Belgian striker Christian Benteke). The French defender is being investigated by UEFA over a possible anti-doping rule violation. Photo: Paul Ellis/AFP

Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho is under investigation by UEFA for failing a drugs test after the Europa League tie at Manchester United last month and was dropped for yesterday's Premier League draw against Newcastle.

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A sample submitted by the France international following the second leg at Old Trafford on March 17 was found to contravene UEFA rules. The £19m defender was told on Friday he had failed the test and the Liverpool hierarchy, including Jurgen Klopp, decided he would not be considered for selection until further notice. He will not feature in Thursday's Europa League semi-final.

A Liverpool statement said: "Yesterday, a formal communication was received from Uefa stating that they are investigating a possible anti-doping rule violation by Mamadou Sakho. The player will respond to Uefa on the matter.

"The player is currently not subject to any playing suspension. However, the club, in consultation with the player, has decided that while this process is followed, the player will not be available for selection for matches."

UEFA released a statement confirming that there was an "adverse finding" in a sample taken from Sakho after the match at Old Trafford. "The player and the club have received all the pertinent information and have until Tuesday to request the analysis of the B sample as well as to provide explanations for the presence of a prohibited substance in the player's body," it read. "There are no disciplinary proceedings opened at this stage."

Klopp said after Liverpool's 2-2 draw with Newcastle: "I'm really limited in what I can say. The club have issued a statement and there is nothing else to say at the moment. I have not had a chance to speak with him yet because we only found out yesterday and we had the game. I heard about it before I named my line-up. It would be easy for me to say, 'No, we didn't miss Mama because we've changed the centre-halves a lot recently', but of course we missed Mama today. It is not a normal situation. When we can say more next week, we will."

Reports in France have claimed the test discovered a fat-burning substance.

Sakho's Liverpool team-mate Kolo Toure tested positive for diet pills while at Manchester City in 2011 and was handed a six-month suspension by the FA. The in-form Sakho could face a similar punishment if found to have taken substances banned by UEFA and such a suspension would rule him out of Euro 2016.

There are no ramifications for Liverpool as a club, however. Klopp's team face Villarreal in the Europa League semi-final on Thursday and UEFA rules state a club's place in a tournament will be in jeopardy only if two or more players on the same team contravene rules in the same game.

Sakho grabbed the equaliser to make it 3-3 against Dortmund in the quarter-final second leg, which Liverpool won 4-3 in stoppage time, and scored against Everton in a 4-0 rout in the league on Wednesday.

Sakho has not been formally suspended by Liverpool, but Klopp, the chief executive, Ian Ayre, and the owner, Fenway Sports Group, agreed it would be prudent to omit the former Paris Saint-Germain captain from games while the investigation commences.

Michele Verroken, director of Sporting Integrity and formerly in charge of anti-doping in the UK, advises athletes against using any substances described as "fat-burners".

"What is causing that fat to burn is that these supplements contain a form of stimulant," she said. "They are not regulated products. It's just too big a risk. I warn against any weight-loss products. It's probably going to be a prohibitive supplement. It's really not worth it. It's a huge risk."

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