In April of 2016, Mamadou Sakho was riding high—playing a pivotal role in the famous come-from-behind Europa League quarterfinal win over Dortmund, and appearing to be in line for a call up to the French national team for the 2016 Euros (which France was hosting).
Then it all came crashing down. He was busted by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for apparently taking a banned substance. Sakho was handed a provisional 30-day suspension, causing him to miss Liverpool’s Europa League final and the Euros played home soil. In both cases, Liverpool and France lost the finals that Sakho missed.
Although the ban was overturned on appeal, the damage to Sakho—both financial and missed once-in-a-lifetime opportunities—had been done.
Shortly thereafter, Sakho had a falling out of some description with manager Jurgen Klopp, and was shipped out to Crystal Palace, first on loan, then permanently.
It was a costly and precipitous fall, just before the fates of the France national team and Liverpool were about to turn around and reach the top of their respective mountain tops.
Now, Sakho wants WADA to pony up, to the tune of £13 million.
“Although [Crystal Palace] is a distinguished Premier League club, it does not have the worldwide reputation or brand recognition of Liverpool FC with the value which this brings to a player, and his associated image rights,” Sakho’s barrister (attorney) said in the initial procedings, “Only recently has he been re-selected to play for the French national team.”
His representation also claims that WADA is guilty of sending several defamatory emails on the matter between 2016-17, further damaging Sakho’s reputation.
“We say the loan and transfer to Crystal Palace in January 2017, and the non-selection for France, are events following the disciplinary proceedings and are not causally related to the claimed act of WADA,” their barrister replied.
WADA also seems to be sticking to their guns, that Sakho was taking a banned substance, even if UEFA overturned the suspension.
It was certainly a sliding-doors moment in his career (for Liverpool and France), but it’s impossible to know how much of an impact it really had in his falling out with Klopp. It will be interesting to see how much, if any, compensation he gets for this clearly traumatic moment in his career.