Though it is widely believed that UEFA’s decision to withdraw Mamadou Sakho’s temporary suspension pending their investigation into a failed doping test was a signal that the football governing body would not suspend the defender long-term, until an official ruling is made neither club nor player can be certain.
Both now know that a final ruling is expected by the end of the first week of July, likely before Liverpool’s first pre-season match on Friday, July 8th against Tranmere, but after the club return to begin pre-season training. This leaves both club and player in a rather awkward situation, but at least the end appears to now be in sight.
Sakho’s lawyers had argued, successfully to all appearances, that the substance Sakho tested positive for was not in fact on UEFA’s banned list. UEFA are currently trying to determine if it should be, but no matter the outcome of that, a decision that punished Sakho for taking a substance not banned at the time is highly unlikely.
Given no final ruling has been made yet, though, no possibility can be entirely ruled out, and so both club and player are waiting for the outcome and final ruling. For Sakho, clearly, his ability to play football could be in jeopardy, and as unlikely as it is to be handed down, a two-year footballing ban remains a possibility on the table.
For the club, meanwhile, the final ruling will determine whether Liverpool buy another centre half this summer. If Sakho is cleared in two weeks, the club will enter into next season with Sakho along with Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip as their top three centre halves while Joe Gomez and Lucas Leiva provide the depth options.
If Sakho were to unexpectedly be handed a long-term ban, the club would likely seek to bring in a starting centre half, and before Sakho’s temporary ban was lifted the Reds had been heavily linked with 24-year-old Valencia and Germany centre half Shkodran Mustafi.