Jurgen Klopp says he’s happy that Mamadou Sakho has “finally” received an apology from the World Anti-Doping Agency, and says his 2016 axing by Liverpool was nothing to do with his drugs ban.
Sakho has received “substantial damages” from WADA after he was found to be wrongfully suspended from football for 30 days in April 2016, with the ban costing him a place in the Europa League final, which Liverpool lost to Sevilla, at a time when he was playing his best football for the club.
The former Paris Saint-Germain centre-back had scored in the quarter-final win over Borussia Dortmund as well as against Everton in the Premier League, and was building a reputation as a cult hero among fans.
The defender, now at Crystal Palace, says the suspension also cost him a place in France’s successful Euro 2016 squad.
Shortly after the ban was served, Klopp dropped the centre-back from his squad after being disappointed with his attitude on a pre-season tour of the US before the 2016/17 season, with Sakho having allegedly been late for a flight, training and a team meal.
“We have some rules and we have to respect them,” said Klopp back then. “If somebody doesn’t respect it, or somebody gives me the feeling he is not respecting it, then I have to react, that’s all.”
Sakho didn’t play for Liverpool in the first half of the 2016/17 season, and then joined Palace on loan for the second half of the campaign before completing a permanent move in the summer.
Speaking before Sunday’s trip to Manchester City, Klopp says he’s pleased that Sakho can now move on from the issue.
“My initial thought was ‘finally!’” Klopp said.
“We all knew it for a long time already that Mama did nothing wrong. It was a massive, massive blow.
“Not only couldn’t he play the Europa League final, but he couldn’t play in the Euros as well if I’m not mistaken.
“I’m really happy for Mama that he got at least now the evidence that he did nothing wrong and it’s a very important thing.”
The Reds boss added that Sakho’s departure had nothing to do with his ban, adding that he hasn’t seen a drugs issue with any of his players during his time in football.
“Doping is a problem, yes. But I never really saw it as a problem in football because I’m 30 years in it and never was in contact with any kind of it,” he added.
“And if [there is], it’s because somebody made a silly decision not because they wanted to improve his recovery time or whatever.
“These were the doping cases I heard about, never was involved in. If you carry around the mark that you did doping, especially when you didn’t do it, that’s massive.
“So I’m really happy he’s freed of all of these things.”
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