WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) have issued an apology to Crystal Palace defender Mamadou Sakho, as well as paying out undisclosed damages, for statements relating to his 2016 drugs ban.
The 30-year-old was tested after playing in Liverpool's Europa League tie against Manchester United in March 2016, and was investigated a month later after posting a positive result for the fat-burner Higenamine.
Sakho was banned for an provisional 30 days, ruling him out of the Europa League final and France's Euro 2016 squad, before it was revealed that Higenamine was not actually a banned substance. After the ban expired in late May, the case was dismissed by UEFA two months later.
A year on, UEFA criticised WADA for not being clear about Higenamine's status on the banned substances list, but WADA fired back and rejected the criticism in a statement of their own a year later; had chosen not to appeal while insisting the substance was on their banned list.
Sakho, meanwhile, believed the saga had led to his departure from Liverpool in August 2017, and he opted to sue WADA for £13m in damages. Now, some three years later, the governing body have released a statement (via The Athletic) apologising to the Frenchman, also settling the aforementioned figure for a reduced, undisclosed settlement.
"WADA retracts and apologises for the defamatory allegations made in the First Press Statement and the Second Press Statement," the statement read. "WADA accepts that it should not have made the defamatory allegations it did in the First Press Statement and the Second Press Statement given that Mr Sakho had been acquitted by UEFA.
"WADA accepts that Mr Sakho did not breach the UEFA Anti-Doping Regulations, did not cheat, had no intention of gaining any advantage, and acted in good faith.
"WADA regrets the damage the defamatory allegations caused to Mr Sakho’s reputation and the distress, hurt and embarrassment caused to him."To indicate the sincerity of this apology, WADA has agreed with its insurers to pay Mr Sakho a substantial sum of damages. WADA has also agreed to bear Mr Sakho’s reasonable costs."
A spokesperson later added: "WADA confirms that it has settled the dispute with Mr. Sakho which has been the subject of some publicity since 2016. There has been no admission of liability, save as set out in the Statement in Open Court, which is a matter of public record. WADA will not be making any further statements in relation to its dispute with Mr. Sakho."
Sakho is still at Crystal Palace, although he is currently not first choice at the club under Roy Hodgson.
Source : 90min