Mamadou Sakho says his drugs ban was the reason he was not selected for France’s Euro 2016 squad.
The defender tested positive for the fat burner higenamine in April last year and was handed a 30-day suspension, although it has since transpired that the substance was not on WADA’s banned list.
Sakho, who is on loan at Crystal Palace from Liverpool, missed the Europa League final due to his ban and believes he would have been picked for Euro 2016 were it not for the suspension.
“I worked so hard to prepare myself for the European Championship, to help my country, to wear the France shirt in a tournament on home soil,” Sakho told the Guardian. “Now I’ll never do that.
“Whatever they say or do, they cannot replace what they took away from me. My lawyer can see what happens next but, for me, I focus on other things. I have learned in life you should never look back over your shoulder, wondering what might have been. That is the past. Always look forward, at the next challenge. It’s life.
“Good and bad things happen, but my mentality is always to try and find a positive. It is the only way to be and, today, I am really happy.”
— Mamadou Sakho (@mamadousakho) April 19, 2017
Sakho maintained his innocence throughout the affair and the 27-year-old said it was tough to explain to his family why he had been banned from playing.
“The hardest moment was when I saw my Mum, my sister, my brother, my wife in tears… they didn’t understand the situation,” Sakho added.
“That was difficult, seeing them upset. They were devastated, but I was there trying to explain to them I had done nothing wrong, and that everything would be alright. It would all be fixed.
“I was actually quite calm, quite peaceful, and just trying to reassure them. It was a time for me to be strong, and those who are close to me had faith. We knew that, eventually, I would be proved right.
“I knew the ban meant I could not be picked, so I spoke with the manager Didier Deschamps and promised I would come to France’s first game, and to their last game too, and that I hoped that would be the final. It was. I visited the team hotel in Paris the day before the final to show my support. My ambition is still to play for my country at the World Cup in 2018 – and regain my place.”
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