Mamadou Sakho will feel a big sense of injustice after UEFA confirmed the substance he used that resulted in a drug suspension was not even banned and NOT even tested for at most laboratories.
Sakho’s Liverpool career came to an abrupt end following the ban and the French defender was forced to miss the Reds Europa League Final and the Euro Finals in his home country last summer as a result
UEFA have published the findings relating to Sakho’s case and have delivered a scathing assessment of the testing conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Sakho admits he took a fat burner – without the permission of Liverpool medical staff – but the full UEFA findings now reveal a catalogue of errors which led to Sakho being incorrectly flagged for giving a positive sample.
It has now emerged that the substance that Sakho tested positive for – a plant extract called Higenamine – was:
- Not specifically listed on WADA’s list of banned substances;
- There are significant expert doubts about whether Higenamine is among a group known as B2-Agonist, all of which Wada states are banned;
- WADA laboratories do not routinely test for Higenamine and if Sakho’s sample had been tested in Lausanne and not Cologne it would not even have been tested for;
- WADA has not properly communicated the status of Higenamine to its laboratories.
Jurgen Klopp provides update on Sakho’s future
The report of UEFA’s Controls, Ethics and Disciplinary Body looks at the issues surrounding Sakho’s ‘positive’ drug test.
Sakho was tested on March 17 last year following Liverpool’s Europa League last 16 tie against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
The analysis of his ‘A’ sample by WADA at their laboratory in Cologne revealed the presence of Higenamine.
On April 22, UEFA notified Sakho that he had tested positive for a substance contained in the WADA Prohibited List of January 1, 2016 and disciplinary proceedings begun on April 28.
At Sakho’s request UEFA provisionally suspended him on the same day for 30 days, although this was later not extended. He has not played for Liverpool’s first team since.
All of this though should have been avoided, UEFA’s findings now suggest.
Sakho submitted expert reports by two professors suggesting that Higenamine was not on the prohibited list and not part of a group which was. That contention has been fully supported by UEFA’s findings.
UEFA’s report states ..“it is clearly not possible for anyone – laboratory, disciplinary body, football player or otherwise – to know whether or not Higenamine is a prohibited substance just by reading WADA’s prohibited list.”
The report goes on to look at whether Higenamine could be covered by a group of banned substances known as B2-Agonists and concludes that there is considerable scientific doubt on whether it can be.
UEFA state: “The expert reports commissioned by the player – which come from very reputable sources in Professor Brian Kobilka and Professor Richard Bloomer – cast serious doubts on this categorisation.
“Under this weight of evidence, and without receiving anything to the contrary from WADA, it is impossible for (UEFA) to accept that Higenamine is scientifically proven to be a B2-Agonist.”
The final criticism for WADA is that they failed to properly communicate their view of the substance to their own laboratories, with some testing for it, others not and even their own experts confused as to whether it was banned.
It states: “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.
“In this regard, Dr Martial Saugy explained that he has not received any formal instruction from WADA to test for Higenamine and explained that the Lausanne Laboratory would not start testing for Higenamine until such communication is received….
“In the present case, the Control Ethics and Disciplinary Body was presented with a situation where the player tested positive for Higenamine because the sample was sent to Cologne, but would not have tested positive if the sample had been sent to Lausanne.”
Which all suggests that Sakho got extremely unlucky to miss some of the potential biggest months of his career because of his “positive” test.
It does however not mitigate against the fact the big centre-back was talking a fat burner without any express knowledge or permission of Liverpool and their medical staff.
Sakho would go on to irriatate Jurgen Klopp with disciplinary breaches on the club’s USA tour before he was sent home and left to play with the U23s before his loan move to Crystal Palace in January.
The Frenchman’s Anfield career is expected to be permanently ended – despite his current fine form – with a big-money move in the summer.