After initially being voluntarily banned at the end of April and incurring a 30-day suspension, Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho is set to protest his innocence when he faces a UEFA panel on Thursday.
Following the second leg of their Europa League Round of 16 meeting with bitter rivals Manchester United back in March the Reds centre-half tested positive for a fat burning substance that his lawyers have argued should not be on the list of banned substances at all. That, surprisingly, is something the European governing body seems to agree with and rather than extend his month-long ban outright, instead they’ve decided to conduct their own investigation into the offending supplement to see if it should be removed from WADA’s list.
Having been dropped by former boss Brendan Rodgers at the start of the season for being overweight, Sakho seemingly got things under control and became an integral part of new boss Jurgen Klopp’s defensive unit as Liverpool romped to the finals of both the League Cup and the Europa League in the German’s first year in charge. The ban, of course, kept him out of the 3-1 loss at the hands of defending champions Sevilla and, with the potential for a further ban hanging over his head, France national team for the European Championships.
Having already returned to pre-season training at Melwood earlier in the week, both the Reds and the player himself face an anxious wait to see if he’ll be able to participate in their extensive friendly fixture list ahead of the start of the new Premier League campaign. Should he incur yet another suspension, the club could be forced to dip in to the transfer market for a replacement — even if only short-term. With veteran defender Kolo Toure released and Slovakian hard man Martin Skrtel looking likely to complete a move to Fenerbache sooner rather than later, Klopp could be light at the back should the Frenchman feel UEFA’s wrath.