‘Saffas Took Drugs In France’

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A new book claims that the arrival of many South African players in the Top 14 has brought with it some ‘questionable behaviour’ regarding doping, writes GAVIN MORTIMER for SARugbymag.co.za.

It’s called Rugby à Charges: L’Enquête Choc (Rugby Accused: The Shock Investigation), and when it was published on Thursday it certainly caused a few tremors in France.

Written by Pierre Ballester, the co-author of LA Confidentiel, the explosive account of Lance Armstrong’s practices, the book claims to lift the lid on decades of serial doping within French rugby.

Reaction was swift, and within a few hours of the book’s publication, Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal had rubbished the allegations concerning his club (notably against international scrumhalf Sebastien Tillous-Borde and osteopath Jean-Pierre Darnaud).

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Yet among the many allegations involving French rugby, there are several charges levelled at South African rugby.

One chapter in the book is entitled: ‘South Africa, outside the norm in hormones’. Here the author says the arrival of many South African players in the Top 14 – five in the 2001-02 season and 49 in 2013-14 season – has brought with it some ‘questionable behaviour’ regarding doping, a charge that has topical resonance bearing in mind the recent news that Chiliboy Ralepelle has returned to South Africa after his Toulouse contract was terminated. He tested positive for the steroid drostanolone last year and is awaiting a hearing that could see him receive a long ban.

Bernard Dusfour, president of the Ligue Nationale de Rugby’s medical commission, is quoted as saying: ‘Yes, it’s true, South Africa has been bad for us. They arrived with their “things” in France, and from 2003 there was a problem. We’ve dealt with it, not definitively. But when they are tested three times a year over here, it’s not the same story.’

Read more on SA Rugby.

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