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Crystal Palace’s Mamadou Sakho sues Wada for £13m over drugs-test error

Mamadou Sakho is suing the World Anti-Doping Agency for £13m over claims a drug-test error ended his career with Liverpool.

The defender, now at Crystal Palace, was suspended from football for 30 days in April 2016 after testing positive for a fat-burning substance following a Europa League first-leg tie with Manchester United. That meant the Frenchman missed the Europa League final against Sevilla in Basel and, he has also claimed in a high court hearing, a place in France’s squad for Euro 2016.

Sakho was cleared by Uefa’s disciplinary body after it found the substance in question – higenamine – was not on Wada’s prohibited list. The governing body then published a report that was hugely critical of Wada, suggesting there were doubts among experts about whether higenamine was among a group known as B2–agonists, all of which are banned by Wada, and pointed out that Wada’s laboratories do not routinely test for the substance.

Sakho never recovered his starting place at Liverpool and was sold to Palace for £26m in September 2017 following a loan spell at Selhurst Park. The 29-year-old has now decided to take legal action against Wada, with his lawyers arguing £13m represents the loss of earning and personal worth Sakho has suffered as a result of leaving Anfield.

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“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,” said Sakho’s barrister, Stuart Ritchie QC, in court. He added: “Only recently has he been re-selected to play for the French national team.”

Wada denies direct responsibility for Sakho’s transfer from Liverpool to Palace, arguing it was caused by “disciplinary issues” and a “personality clash” with Jürgen Klopp.

At the end of the hearing, the judge ordered that the trial on liability – whether Wada was negligent – should take place before the amount of compensation is considered.

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