Rugby thrust into doping cloud

2013-05-30 21:10
Laurent Benezech (Gallo Images)

SA's biggest rugby fans

2013-06-05 21:00

Pictures of the biggest rugby fans in SA wearing their team's shirt proudly.

Paris - Former France prop Laurent Benezech continued to make controversial claims about doping in rugby on Thursday by telling the French Senate he believes he was given illegal substances during the 1995 World Cup.

Last month Benezech claimed doping in rugby was as bad as in cycling and that those involved in running the sport were turning a blind eye to it, in much the same way as cycling had prior to the Festina scandal in 1998.

Now, in his latest broadside against the cleanliness of rugby, Benezech said he had a strong inclination that he was given doping products during the 1995 World Cup in South Africa, where France reached the semi-finals before losing narrowly to the hosts.

"I have a strong belief that during that period I was given cortisone," Benezech told an inquiry into the fight against doping in sport.

The former Toulouse and Racing Metro front-ranker said it was while being treated with cortisone for a retinal detachment in 1999 that he worked out he'd already been given that substance once before, at the 1995 World Cup.

"I discovered a certain physical euphoria, I didn't feel tired any more... That feeling reminded me that I'd had it once before at a specific time in my career," he said.

Benezech also claimed that the culpability went right to the top.

"The French team had a doctor who was Marc Bichon and a manager who was Pierre Berbizier.

"I don't think Marc Bichon took it upon himself to put in place a medical protocol without having been directed to do so by the general manager.

"And the general manager Pierre Berbizier, who I know well as I also had him as a coach, I don't think he would have taken that decision without the authorisation of the president of the French Rugby Federation at that time (Bernard Lapasset)," he added.

Berbizier said he had nothing to say about the claims but would look into the details.

For his part, Bichon claimed it was all a pack of lies.

"My response is simple: I refute every single accusation made by this man," he said.

Bichon also claimed that the French team during that tournament "underwent drug testing before leaving for South Africa, when they arrived in Pretoria and after every match they played, with two players tested each time".

The former doctor complained that such accusations could tarnish his image as "people will say there is no smoke without fire."

According to the list of prohibited substances and methods published by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), cortisone is banned when administered by oral, rectal, intravenous or intramuscular routes.

Read more on:    rugby

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Sport Talk

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee remains defiant, saying he won't resign despite a shambolic two years at the helm. Your thoughts?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.