Liverpool and France defender Mamadou Sakho is set to miss the rest of the season – and could yet be ruled out of Euro 2016 – following his failed drug test.
European governing body Uefa today confirmed that it has opened disciplinary proceedings against Sakho and accordingly issued him with a provisional 30-day suspension.
If found guilty, however, he could face a longer ban that would keep him out of this summer’s European Championship in his home country and potentially into next season.
Sakho is thought to have tested positive for an illegal fat-burning substance after Liverpool’s Europa League last-16 second leg against Manchester United on 17 March.
The 26-year-old’s fellow Anfield centre-back Kolo Toure received a six-month suspension in 2011 after he was found to have taken a prohibited weight-loss supplement.
A similar ban would keep Sakho sidelined until November and see him become the second France star to be forced to miss the tournament in controversial circumstances.
Karim Benzema has already been precluded from selection, following his questioning by police in connection to a plot to blackmail Les Bleus midfielder Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape.
Benzema has denied involvement but French football chiefs cited concerns over team spirit should the former Lyon marksman, who has scored 27 goals in 81 internationals, be recalled.
Uefa said Sakho did not request that his other sample be tested, and said a date for a hearing into his case had not yet been set.
Sakho was left out of Liverpool’s team for Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Newcastle after news of the positive test emerged and he did not travel with the squad for tonight’s European semi-final at Villarreal.