Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho still has a slim chance of representing France at the upcoming European Championships after UEFA confirmed they would not be extending his provisional suspension for failing a drugs test.
According to French newspaper L’Equipe, the fat pills which caused Sakho’s positive result are not a banned substance, meaning he could have been allowed to play in the Europa League final, which Liverpool lost 3-1 to Sevilla.
Sakho’s legal team have reportedly provided scientific evidence in support of their player to the World Anti-Doping Agency, raising doubts about the illegality of the fat-burning pills.
UEFA confirmed in a statement to insidethegames that “a decision on the case will be made within the next few days” and they will now investigate whether the substance was banned or not.
If they find in his favour, he will be eligible to play for France at Euro 2016 and will be cleared to start Liverpool's first Premier League match of the 2016 to 2017 season.
“The 30-day provisional suspension ends today,” a UEFA statement read.
“The chairman of the Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body decided not to extend it.
“The player would thus be free to play as from tomorrow.
“A decision on the case will be made within the next few days.”
The 26-year-old, who made 34 appearances for Liverpool last season, was not named in France’s provisional squad for Euro 2016 by manager Didier Deschamps.
Injuries to two key defenders, Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane and Barcelona’s Paul-Henri Mathieu, opened the door for Sakho to play in the tournament on French soil.
They appear to have been replaced by Adil Rami and Samuel Umtiti, diminishing Sakho’s chances of being selected, though there remains a glimmer of hope he may yet get the chance to compete as Deschamps has until May 31 to name his full squad.
Sakho was given a provisional suspension, which ended today, after he tested positive following Liverpool's Europa League clash with arch-rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford on March 17.
UEFA’s decision to provisionally ban him meant Sakho missed the second leg of their Europa League semi-final win over Borussia Dortmund and the final, as well as Liverpool’s last four Premier League matches.
It had been suggested that Sakho could have faced a lengthy ban from the sport under rules introduced by WADA in 2015, which allow first doping offences to be punished with four-year bans.
His Liverpool team-mate Kolo Toure was suspended for six months in 2011 while at Manchester City after he had been found to have taken prohibited water tablets which he claimed he got from his wife to help him slim down.