Premier League / 25 July 2019, 3:30pm / SAMI MOKBEL FOOTBALL NEWS CORRESPONDENT
Mamadou Sakho is suing the World Anti-Doping Agency for £13million, accusing them of a drug-test error that effectively ended his Liverpool career.
The central defender, now at Crystal Palace, was banned in April 2016 following a positive test for a fat-burning substance after a Europa League match against Manchester United.
The provisional 30-day suspension meant the France international missed Liverpool’s Europa League final loss to Sevilla and, at London’s High Court yesterday, Sakho claimed the ruling cost him a place at Euro 2016 in his homeland.
The court heard Sakho tested positive for higenamine in March 2016.
However, he was eventually cleared by UEFA after they ruled the substance was not on the banned list.
As a result, Sakho is suing for £13m, claiming his earnings and the worth of his personal brand have been reduced due to his move away from Liverpool.
WADA deny responsibility for his transfer from Liverpool, which they say was caused by disciplinary issues and a personality clash with manager Jurgen Klopp.
Sakho’s barrister Stuart Ritchie told the court: ‘Although (Crystal Palace) is a distinguished Premier League club, it does not have the worldwide reputation or brand recognition of Liverpool with the value which this brings to a player, and his associated image rights. Only recently has he been re-selected to play for the French national team.’
The laboratory wrote to WADA, which maintains the list of substances prohibited in world sports, and was told the substance was on the banned index. But the list did not specifically name higenamine and UEFA found it was not proven that it was on the banned list, clearing and ‘vindicating’ Sakho in July 2016, according his QC. The 29-year-old argues the impact on his career was made worse when WADA stood by their claims in ‘defamatory’ emails to journalists in 2016 and 2017, said Mr Ritchie.
‘In the statements, WADA alleged Mr Sakho was guilty of taking a prohibited, performance-enhancing substance, and that it was not appealing against the decision only because it was uncertain that he would receive a significantly higher sanction than the suspension of one month he had already served,’ he said.
WADA deny any wrongdoing, claiming higenamine was ‘one of the generic substances banned’. They also deny negligence or that they owed Sakho any duty of care, and question the impact the suspension had on his career.
Sakho was sent home from Liverpool’s pre-season tour in 2016 for breaking team rules and went to Palace on loan in January 2017. The deal was made permanent when the London club paid £24m for him eight months later.