• France's news in English

French rugby team in 1980s 'pumped on drugs'

AFP/The Local · 25 Feb 2015, 08:31

Published: 25 Feb 2015 08:31 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"They each had their little pill in front of their plates for the meal before the match," French team doctor of the time, Jacques Mombet, is quoted as saying in the book.

Mombet said the drug taking was most obvious when France played New Zealand at Nantes in 1986.

The match became dubbed "The battle of Nantes" for its ferocity which resulted in All Black legend Wayne Shelford being knocked out and losing several teeth in the process. France beat the All Blacks 16-3.

"The Blacks realised that their opponents, unrecognisable from the previous week, were loaded," Mombet said in the book by investigative journalist Pierre Ballester.

New Zealand made a complaint to the International Rugby Board, which approached the French sports ministry which informed the French federation and a clampdown was started, the doctor said.

Ballester wrote that he asked the doctor whether that meant rugby legends such as Serge Blanco, Philippe Sella and Pierre Berbizier were involved. All played in the New Zealand game.

"No, not them. Or at least it was very exceptional," the doctor was quoted as saying.

France's rugby establishment, including Blanco, the current French Rugby Federation vice president, did not immediately react to the allegations.

Former French prop Laurent Benezech said in 2013 that drug-taking in rugby in the 1980s was the same as in cycling.

Others like ex-France coach Bernard Laporte, have also acknowledged that drugs were taken.

Laporte told a French parliament hearing in 2013 players took drugs without knowing they were banned.

Story continues below…

Jean-Pierre Elissalde, a former French scrum half and whose playing career lasted from 1973-88, said in an interview with Le Figaro newspaper that "the sports world was stuffed with drugs in the 1970s and 1980s."

Ballester wrote a 2004 book on disgraced cycling champion Lance Armstrong in which he was among the first to publicly make drug allegations against the seven-time Tour de France champion.

His rugby book, "Rugby a Charges, l'enquete choc" (The case against rugby) is released in France on March 5.

Ballester's book also casts doubt on the use of  supplements by some current players. He said some substances could not be detected or were so new they were not yet known.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

How Paris is rapidly becoming Europe's 'City of Innovation'
Photo: AFP

If you want to start a company then Paris is the place to do it, it seems.

'Jungle' clearance: Migrants begin to leave Calais camp
All photos: AFP

The "Jungle" clearance is underway.

France’s 'Jungle' children arrive in UK
Authorities will start to clear the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp on Monday. Photo: Denis Charlet / AFP file picture

The first group of children from the French "Jungle" migrant camp with no connection to Britain have arrived in the country, the Home Office said Sunday, ahead of the camp's planned demolition.

French FM calls for end to Aleppo 'massacre'
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault says the international community cannot ‘come to a negotiation under the bombs’. Photo: Dominick Reuter / AFP file picture

France's foreign minister urged the international community to "do everything" to end the "massacre" in the Syrian city of Aleppo on Sunday after fighting resumed following a 72-hour truce declared by Damascus ally Russia.

Parisians cheer on protesting French police
French police officers on Saturday demonstrated for the fifth night in a row to protest mounting attacks on officers. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

Angry French police have taken to the streets for five nights in a row -- and Parisians have started to cheer them on, reviving scenes last seen following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in 2015.

Scarlett Johansson turns popcorn girl in Paris
US actress Scarlett Johansson greets customers at the Yummy Pop gourmet popcorn shop in the Marais district of Paris. Photo: Benjamin Cremel / AFP

Hollywood superstar Scarlett Johansson swapped the red carpet for a turn behind the counter at her new popcorn shop in Paris on Saturday.

US couple donates huge art collection to Paris
Marlene (centre) and Spencer (right) are donating their collection ‘for the benefit of art lovers’. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

A Texan couple who discovered their love for art during a trip to Paris in the 1970s are to donate the multi-million dollar collection they have amassed since to the French capital.

France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
jobs available