Early on Thursday, Belgium kicked off the naming of the Euro 2016 squads with a 24-man roster including Liverpool players Simon Mignolet, Divock Origi, and Christian Benteke. Late in the day, hosts France threw their hat into the ring as Didier Deschamps named his 23-man squad.
It perhaps won’t be surprising to learn that Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho, considered a lock to start only a few weeks ago, was left off following his failed drugs test. Sakho isn’t technically banned for the upcoming Euros, but the expectation is that he will end up barred, and so Deschamps decided to leave him out entirely.
Currently, Sakho is serving a 30-day ban by UEFA that applies to any club competition. FIFA have matched that ban, ruling Sakho out from appearing for France, but once that initial ban expires he will be eligible to play again. Unless, of course, the ban is extended or a final ruling in his case is handed down.
And whichever way it goes—a quick ruling before the Euros or a delayed one that sees the temporary ban extended—there is little expectation that Sakho will be available to play for his country this summer. At best, the player can perhaps hope for a six-month ban being handed down, as was the case for Kolo Toure.
Toure ran afoul of the FA’s anti-doping regulations while playing for Manchester City and in the end was banned for six months. However, in his case the English FA was the ruling body, and UEFA’s sanctions for failing a drugs test are widely considered to be harsher than the Football Association’s.
Sakho has claimed that he took a fat burner for therapeutic purposes rather than to enhance his performance, and he will be hoping that his decision not to ask for his B sample to be tested, amounting to an admission of guilt while claiming no ill intent, will be viewed favourably by UEFA’s regulatory body.
As yet, there has been no word from UEFA about when a final ruling in his case can be expected.