A Premier League player is suing the world anti-doping agency (WADA) for £13 million over claims a drug-test blunder wrecked part of his career.
Defender Mamadou Sakho, currently at Crystal Palace, was suspended in April 2016 after testing positive for a fat-burning substance while he was at Liverpool
The provisional 30-day suspension meant Sakho missed out on Liverpool’s Europa League final defeat to Sevilla and he claims the ban also cost him a place in France’s Euro 2016 squad.
He was eventually cleared in disciplinary proceedings before UEFA after they found the substance – higenamine – was not actually on the banned list.
In his legal claim, Sakho argues his earnings as a player and the worth of his personal brand were seriously undermined and led to him being transferred after he failed to recover his first-team place at Liverpool.
Wada denies it is responsible for his transfer, saying it was caused by “disciplinary issues” and a “personality clash” with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
At the High Court, Stuart Ritchie QC, representing Sakho, referencing Sakho’s move to Palace in January 2017, said: “Although this is a distinguished club, it does not have the worldwide reputation of Liverpool with the value this brings to a player.”
The court heard that Sakho had tested positive for the substance because it was present in a dietary supplement he had taken.
The laboratory in question wrote to Wada and was told that the substance was on its banned list under “B2-agonists”. But the list did not specifically name higenamine and UEFA found it was “not proven” that it was on the list and cleared the player.
The UEFA tribunal said at the time there were “significant doubts” whether higenamine is a “B2-agonist” and said there had been a “lack of communication” from Wada about its status.
By Andrew Warshaw