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Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho investigated for alleged anti-doping violation

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Mamadou Sakho faces doping probe

Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho is being investigated by UEFA for an alleged anti-doping violation.

The 26-year-old France international centre-back was omitted from the Liverpool team to face Newcastle United in Saturday's Premier League game at Anfield as a result, but he has not been suspended from playing by either his club or UEFA.

After discussions between the club's owners Fenway Sports Group, manager Jurgen Klopp and the player himself, it was decided he should not play in the immediate future, even though he is still eligible for Premier League matches and Thursday's Europa League semi-final first leg in Villarreal.

Mamadou Sakho of Liverpool in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool
Image: Sakho is still eligible to play in the Premier League and Europa League

The alleged offence relates to the Reds' Europa League second-leg tie at Manchester United on March 17 - which they drew 1-1 to progress 3-1 on aggregate - and is believed to concern a so-called 'fat-burning' substance.

Sakho is highly likely to request his B sample be tested, with the deadline for that request set for Tuesday.

It is understood that Liverpool's participation in the Europa League is not in doubt and there will be no disciplinary action for the club to face - that can only kick in if two players in the same season are found to have had doping violations. 

A statement on Liverpool's official website read: "Yesterday, Friday 22nd April 2016, a formal communication was received from UEFA stating that they are investigating a possible anti-doping rule violation by Mamadou Sakho.

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Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho ahead of the Europa League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on March 17
Image: Sakho played all of Liverpool's Europa League match against Manchester United at Old Trafford

"The player will respond to UEFA on the matter and he is currently not subject to any playing suspension. However, the club, in consultation with the player, has decided that while this process is followed the player will not be available for selection for matches."

Klopp was asked about Sakho's absence following Liverpool's clash with Newcastle which ended in a 2-2 draw after the Magpies rallied from 2-0 down.

He said: "I'm really limited what I can say. There's is an official statement and there's nothing else to say. It's not the most easy situation that's for sure but maybe we can say more when we know more maybe next week.

"We changed a lot of players in the last few weeks including at centre-half so I can't say we missed Mama."

UEFA also issued a statement on Saturday which read: "UEFA would like to confirm the information communicated by Liverpool FC regarding an adverse finding in a doping test of their player Mamadou Sakho conducted at the UEFA Europa League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC on 17 March (1-1).

"The player and the club have received all the pertinent information and have until Tuesday to request the analysis of the B sample as well as to provide explanations for the presence of a prohibited substance in the players' body. There are no disciplinary proceedings opened at this stage."

Sakho's Liverpool team-mate Kolo Toure, who replaced him in the side to face Newcastle, was banned for six months in 2011 while at Manchester City after the FA found him guilty of taking slimming tablets.

A similar ban for Sakho would rule him out of Euro 2016 in France this summer.    

Mamadou Sakho in action for Liverpool against Bordeaux
Image: Sakho is not facing disciplinary proceedings at this stage

Michele Verroken, director of Sporting Integrity and formerly in charge of anti-doping in the UK, advises athletes against using any substances described as 'fat-burners'.

"What is causing that fat to burn is that these supplements contain a form of stimulant," she said. "They are not regulated products. It's just too big a risk. I warn against any weight-loss products. It's probably going to be a prohibitive supplement. It's really not worth it. It's a huge risk."

Verroken said that if an athlete can show that they did not intend to improve performance, they could get a lesser sanction.

"But these are strict liability offences and have to go through the due process," she added.

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