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Jurgen Klopp has welcomed the news that Mamadou Sakho, the former Liverpool defender, has won his libel action against the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Sakho was suspended from playing after testing positive for a fat-burning substance called higenamine after the Reds’ Europa League last 16, second leg tie against Manchester Unted in March 2016.
He was hit with a provisional 30-day suspension, and despite protesting his innocence, he missed Liverpool’s run to the final, where they lost to Sevilla. Sakho also believes the claims cost him a place in France’s squad for Euro 2016, despite the fact the ban was overturned on appeal after UEFA found that there was no certainty over whether higenamine was on WADA’s list of prohibited substances.
That led to a four-year legal battle, and on Wednesday at the Royal Courts of Justice, WADA accepted Sakho’s case in full, apologising for making defamatory allegations in the press in both 2016 and 2017.
Asked about the case, Klopp told reporters on Friday:“My initial thought was ‘finally’, because we have all known for a long time that 'Mama' did nothing wrong at that time.
“It was a massive blow. It meant he not only couldn’t play the Europa League final, but he missed the Euros that year, if I’m right? It was absolutely massive, 100 per cent.
“I’m really happy for Mama that he got now at least the evidence that he did nothing wrong. It’s a very important thing.”
Klopp added: “Yes, doping is a problem, 100 per cent. I never saw it really as a problem in football, because in 30 years in football I never came in contact with it, and if there was a case it was because somebody made a silly decision, not because they wanted to improve their recovery time or whatever.
“But if you carry around that mark, that you were doping, then that’s massive. Especially when you didn’t do it. I’m really pleased that he’s finally free of all these things.”
Sakho made 80 appearances for Liverpool after joining from Paris Saint-Germain in 2014. A fans' favourite for a time at Anfield, he scored in the Reds’ memorable win over Borussia Dortmund in 2016, also netting in a Merseyside derby victory over Everton soon after.
But after missing the Europa League final, his Liverpool career would run off course. He fell out with Klopp during a pre-season tour of America, with the manager unhappy at repeated breaches of club discipline.