Six Nations

Coach denies doping culture

2015-02-25 17:43
Philippe Saint-Andre (AFP)

Marcoussis - Former France captain and current head coach Philippe Saint-Andre on Wednesday denied accusations in a new book that the team were huge consumers of amphetamines during the 1980's.

"Our doping was passion, the desire to play, to make passes and also the enjoyment of drinking two or three beers after the match with our fans," Saint-Andre said at the French team camp in Marcoussis, where they are preparing to face Wales in Six Nations action on Saturday.

"I drank two espressos before playing. How many people drink two espressos before going to work? The adrenaline which followed was the desire to play, make passes, fight and put a stiff tackle on an Englishman to make him squeal," said Saint-Andre, who made 69 appearances for France between 1990 and 1997.

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

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.

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 but Saint-Andre continued to play down the accusations and said his current team is clean.

"For 13 years, rugby has been professional and the players have been followed by the French Rugby Federation. Our players are controlled dozens of times per year.

"I spoke to Thierry Dusautoir (France captain) and he says every time he goes on holiday, he is followed," added the coach.

"Any kind of specialist or any kind of journalist can come spend a week with us, 24 hours a day, and they will see that we are clean. On that matter there is no problem," added Saint-Andre, who has guided the team to an opening Six Nations victory over Scotland before a defeat against the Irish in Dublin.

"If ever a player is caught doping, he will be banned from the France team. The message is clear and simple. As long as I am coach of France, there will not be that kind of crap in the French team," he concluded.

Read more on:    france  |  six nations  |  philippe saint-andre  |  rugby

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