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The weird story of Uefa attempting to by-pass world doping rules is finally resolved.

By Tony Attwood

On 15 July 2016 Untold covered the case of proceedings against Mamadou Sakho of Liverpool by Uefa following his being found to have taken a banned substance.  The proceedings were stopped and the case dismissed after Uefa stated that the drug should not have been on the banned list.

Now in reporting this story I had some difficulty because I (obviously) had no direct line of information from Uefa and could only put together such information as could be gleaned from the few news services that thought it was reporting.

But what worried me throughout was that the case seemed to be full of holes.   How could Uefa actually say that a substance should not have been on the banned list?  That is the job of the world anti-doping agency WADA. Uefa is supremely unqualified in such a matter.

Sakho then threatened to take the World Anti-Doping Agency to court.  But as far as I know, he didn’t. WADA had the right to appeal against Uefa – but they didn’t.   Which was also odd.

What I wanted to know how Uefa could simply say WADA was wrong, given that WADA is the authority to which everyone turns in order to stop the wholesale use of drugs, as seemingly has happened in Russia, that would be a very serious turn of events.

There was a lot of briefing in secret going on to the effect that the problem is very much WADA’s, and that WADA had been warned that the banning of the substance was wrong.   However the people saying this remained secret, which is always a suspicious sign, when there is no obvious reason why they should be secret.  And there was no evidence, not even from the protagonists – Uefa.

Liverpool then took up the case and hired a lawyer specialising in the field to see whether higenamine, the compound at the heart of the dispute, was one that could be classified as a beta2, which would make it illegal.  But we never heard the answer.  That was suspicious too.

Uefa then said it would not extend the suspension while further investigation was ongoing.  There were mutterings that some WADA laboratories check for higenamine, not all of them do.  That was presented as a shock horror story pointing at WADA’s gross incompetence.

Then Uefa’s disciplinary body announced that the evidence for higenamine being a banned substance was not valid, which suggested Uefa was a higher authority on drugs matters than WADA and that Uefa was clearing up WADA’s mess.  That sounded very dubious.

And by now blame was being spread thick and fast around WADA with talk in the press of another  “meldonium fiasco”.   But in reality all that happened was that WADA announced that it was planning to add  meldonium to its banned list but then many sports men and women claimed that although they stopped taking the drug when the banning was announced, traces were still showing up in their samples.  WADA took note and issued new guidance.  The press reported that WADA was “thrown into chaos” and the media and state organisations in Russia, seized upon it as a way of trying to discredit WADA and get their teams back into the Olympics.

But in reality WADA’s new guidance acknowledged that trace elements of meldonium can remain in the body “for a few months” if someone has been taking the drug for a prolonged period.  Nothing else.

However football in general seized on this as Uefa was already fighting WADA over its view that the team should not be punished for the sin of a player – which effectively meant that some clubs don’t go as far as they might to do their own drugs checks.   And also the very very low rate of tests carried out in football compared to other sports.
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In short, in terms of the Mamadou Sakho affair, Uefa saw the chance to prove WADA incompetent, and go its own way setting itself up as the competent people in the affair.
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But now at last Uefa has finally admitted that “Higenamine is not expressly mentioned by name on Wada’s prohibited list.”  There was thus no need for Uefa to ask for a test for it.  But, bizarrely, they sent the sample to a lab that did test for Hignamine, among everything else.   The report came back that Higenamine was present.  And Uefa (not WADA) made a huge mistake.
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For at this moment all anyone had to do was to look at the WADA list of banned substances, see higenamine was not there, and carry on.  However Liverpool FC didn’t check.  Uefa didn’t check.  And the player was banned.  Quite simply he could sue the lot of them.
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The Cologne Laboratory tested for higenamine because that is part of the service that it offers, but the WADA Lausanne laboratory does not test for higenamine at all because it is a very specialist test, and not required by WADA rules.

Uefa of course can never make a mistake – that is in its rule book, so it is now trying to blame WADA once again.  But the simple fact is that Uefa, has (or should have) a list of banned substances, and ought to be able to look down a list and see if a drug is banned or not.  All of the fuss that happened, it seems, came about as Uefa tried to dig itself out of the hole it had got into by not checking, while not admitting it had not bothered to look at the WADA list.   Liverpool it seems were complicit since they were just as guilty of not checking the WADA list.

Uefa’s statement that, “The onus is clearly on WADA to communicate to its laboratories what is and what is not on the prohibited list,” is nonsense, since WADA’s labs do far more than test for banned substances.  They test for substances that might be banned, and substances that are under enquiry where it is not at all clear what impact specific drugs might have on an individual.  Such data gathered helps keep up with drug cheats, as well as inform medical authorities.

According to press reports, Liverpool were also unhappy their player took any substance without informing the club’s medical staff, not least because Sakho had previous in terms of breaches of club discipline. That of course is a fair point.

Uefa will naturally wriggle and wriggle and blame everyone but themselves, and for some reason the media in the UK like to side with Uefa against WADA.   But in my view we should be careful.  WADA is all we have got to keep sport clean, and given the choice, I’d side with them any day.
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21 comments to The weird story of Uefa attempting to by-pass world doping rules is finally resolved.

  • swiller

    Liverpool didn’t check because sakho never told them he was taking the slimming pills. Also Sakho had checked himself but non of the substances where on the banned list

  • Hunter13

    sorry but…fuck WADA

    is usain bolt clean? bollocks….

    are the american nba players clean? there are no doping controls in nba…yet in olympics they bring nba players…

    have they ever been tested ? hmmmmmm

    dream team and bollocks… Drazen could beat thema ll on his own..air mike included.

  • Hunter13

    …youre only dopping if you get caught….

  • Leon

    “Is usain bolt clean? bollocks…”
    Can you support this with evidence?

  • Hunter13

    sorry leon i dont have evidence that americans charged in iraq for oil either but you can believe what you want my friend..

    evidence…. ? lol..because its human to run 100m in 8 seconds purely because of training and a nice sixpack…

  • Hunter13

    ronaldo too…that body is strictly gymnastics ..nevermind his jaw became a square

  • Leon

    You’re deflecting my question. I didn’t ask about Americans in Iraq.
    I would imagine a human running 100 metres in 8 secs might raise few eyebrows, but 9.58 is far more believable, and you still can’t prove he’s not clean.

  • Hunter13

    come again? why do i need to prove anything? because you say so? lol sit down leo.. it is my belief and thats how it was expressed – with a question and my take on it immediately following- that noone in track & fields is clean or professional sports for that matter… especialy when money is related to performance.. and especially in the states or even jamaica were perhaps runners is what they can claim as their niche in the track and field arenas.

    do we need to prove that refs cheat arsenal too?

    or alternatively…until i can prove dowd dean and the rest fuck arsenal then said cheating aint happening..right? heh…

  • Leon

    Hunter13
    You don’t know how this works do you?
    You make a statement, if you’re challenged on it you should be able to provide evidence or risk being called a liar.
    Simple as that.
    And as a reminder this is an evidence based blog and we all regularly face challenges to prove it.
    But if you have some sort of exemption fair enough.

  • Hunter13

    No i dont understand your weird rules… you act as if we are having an argument or a debate to solve or some case to prove in a court.

    maybe you failed as a lawyer and use the internet for arsenal websites to recapture the ‘dream’

  • Hunter13

    oh and you can call me a liar all you want for believing every professional sportsman in track and fields one way or another dopes up. i shall carry your accusation with pride.

  • Leon

    Hunter13
    OK, fair enough. This is your opinion and not really based on facts. You could’ve said that in the first place and I wouldn’t have pressed so hard.
    We all have opinions.

  • nicky

    Hunter.
    Are you not clever enough to realise that this website is different than most others in that you have to back your statements with evidence ,something that tony and walter advocate and use to bar many posters on here when they do not provide it or when they dont tow the AKB party line.So as leon has challenged you ,where is your evidence??As far as im aware there is only menace allowed to insult,call and abuse others without said facts..

  • nicky

    @Hunter,
    Just a line to say that the 7.12 attributed to me is incorrect.
    Untold seems to have slipped up in its security.
    Or can there be the appalling chance that another “nicky” exists?
    Surely not. 😉

  • Leon

    nicky (the real one)
    Your namesake was all over the blog on Wednesday (on the Jon Toral article) & even took a yellow card from Tony, yet here he is again, but without your literacy.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    In most probabillity if UEFA , FIFA , BIGMOB and most of **** , are ever tested , they’d show very high levels in INCOMPETENCE . Stupidity levels would also be off the charts.
    Not toxic enough to kill them (sadly!) , as their rate of tolerance would be quite naturally high.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Some have the ability to sniff it out .

    “SIXTH SENSE ”

    A Blind man does to a Hotel…

    Manager – ” Menu Sir ?”

    Man – ” I’m blind, just bring me your kitchen spoon, I’ll smell it and order.”

    The manager got a spoon, and the blind man smelt it and said , “Yes, I’ll have garlic bread with seasoned potatoes…”

    “Unbelievable !” ,said the manager…

    Every week he came and was correct each time.

    Once the manager wanted to trick him, so he went to the kitchen and told his wife ,Maria ,”Rub this spoon on your lips”. She rubs it on her lips and gives it to her hubby…

    The blind man smelt it and said, “Oh ! My God……!! My old lover Maria also works here!!”

    The Manager fainted !!!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Here’s an old joke on why you should never butt in , if your knowledge is limited . I’m sure Hunter 13 will love this !

    A Isreali sits down on an airplane next to a great big, barrel-chested, red-haired, pale-skinned, hairy Irishman.

    The Irishman is reading a newspaper, paging through, and the Isreali begins to glance over when something grabs his attention and he takes hold of the Irishman’s jacket cuff, exclaiming , “Look, look, it’s Moshe Dayan! There’s his photo in the newspaper, you know he vas a hero from the Six-Day Var and he vore an eyepatch, he vas born on the kibbutz—”

    “Fuck Moshe Dayan,” spits the Irishman without looking up.

    Turning the page, the Isreali again exclaims, “But there’s Golda Meir too! She vas an Israeli prime minister! And she vas born in Milvaulkee, vell first she vas a teacher, and—”

    “Fuck Golda Meir!”

    The Isreali starts and turns away from the newspaper. A few minutes pass and something from the Irishman’s paper catches his eye again.

    “Akiva Tatz! Vow, you know he’s an orthodox rabbi, but he’s also a doctor and you know he wrote a—”

    “Fuck Akiva Tatz,” says the Irishman.

    “What what what, you’re not Jewish?”

    “The fuck does it look like? I’m Irish.”

    The Jew thinks for a second and says,

    “Yeah?! Vell, vell . . . Fuck Ella Fitzgerald!”

    ( To those who never heard of or knew of Ella , here is her page – http://www.ellafitzgerald.com/about/ )

  • para

    Beware of research:

    A scientist testing a flea.
    Him tell the flea to jump, the flea jump.
    Him cut off one leg of the flea, tell it to jump. The flea jump.
    Him cut off another leg, the flea jump.
    Him cut off the last leg, flea don’t move.

    Scientist writes:
    It is clear that cutting off all the legs of a flea makes it deaf.

  • nicky

    @Leon,
    Many thanks for that.
    Why on earth should ANYBODY use the pseudonym of a 93 year-old nobody? 😉

  • Leon

    nicky

    He’s probably a genuine “nicky”, but needs to put a number or something after his name to differentiate from yourself.