Liverpool central defender Mamadou Sakho has put a place at EURO 2016 at risk when it emerged that he had failed a drugs test yesterday.
The French international was taking a type of fat burning product that had an illegal substance in it vis-a-vis UEFA doping rules. The doping test that Sakho failed was undertaken following Liverpool’s Round of 16 Europa League match against Manchester United, in a game that ended 1-1.
The player claims that he was taking the fat burner for personal use, which suggests that his club Liverpool might not have been aware that the Frenchman was taking it.
Liverpool stated in a press release yesterday that in a joint decision by the club, manager and player, Sakho would not be officially suspended but would be omitted from the squad until the investigation has been carried out.
Mamadou Sakho has until Tuesday to submit a B sample to UEFA. Publicly, his club is supporting him, but privately they are shocked by his actions, especially as he has generally been considered as an example of professionalism since joining the Merseyside outfit.
The club consider this situation to be entirely the fault of the player himself. Sakho has explained to club officials that he did not take the product with the aim of attempting to improve his football performances, just that he was taking it because he was conscious about his size and ultimately, his fat levels.
Individuals close to the player insist that he did not know the contents of the product, and this appears as if it will be his main argument as he looks to defend himself during the legal process. They also claim that he was assured that the product was not on UEFA’s list of banned substances.
At worst, Sakho risks a two year ban from all professional football matches for taking an illegal substance.
In 2011, Kolo Touré was given a 6 month ban for taking a slimming product which was initially used by his wife. This 6 month ban was given despite UEFA officially recognising that the player did not intend to use the substance in order to gain a competitive advantage on the football pitch.
If Sakho were to receive the same punishment, he would only miss 3 months of action with Liverpool, but he would lose his right to represent France at EURO 2016, which is his ultimate aim.
This situation of course creates another unexpected headache for Didier Deschamps, just weeks before the Frenchman is due to announce his squad for the upcoming tournament.
Speaking to L’Équipe, doctor and doping specialist Michel Audran has given his expert opinion on the matter:
“First of all, we should explain that fat burner products are food supplements that aim to reduce your fat mass. What it is composed of is very variable depending on who produces the product, but in general it is a mixture of plant extracts, green tea or spices. Now to know if by taking those substances you can fail a drugs test, that is the question. I do not know what Mamadou Sakho took, but it is possible that his food supplement was contaminated, voluntarily or involuntarily.”
“There are products that are made in Asia and not always in the best way. The Cologne Laboratory has estimated that between 7% and 10% of food supplements could be contaminated. So yes, if a food supplement is contaminated, then it can hide another substance within it. The contaminant could have been put into the product by the manufacturer without declaring so. Now, there are idiots everywhere. People who are not careful, people who afterwards say that they are surprised. In France, we ask top level sports people to buy products by following a norm so that there is no risk. Sakho maybe knew nothing about it but he remains responsible. Now, I am still sceptical. For a top level footballer takes a food supplement in the middle of the season to burn fat, it is maybe because he does not train hard enough…”