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RugbyU: No knowledge of French doping, says IRB chief

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Former French federation head and current International Rugby Board (IRB) president, Bernard Lapasset, on Friday denied any knowledge of doping in the France national rugby union team.

Ex-France prop Laurent Benezech, speaking at a French Senate inquiry into the fight against doping in sport on Thursday, continued to make controversial claims about doping in rugby, saying he believed he was given illegal substances during the 1995 World Cup.

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.

He also said any decision to push doping would not have occurred without the say-so of then-France coach Pierre Berbizier and ex-French federation boss Lapasset.

But Lapasset, speaking at the SportAccord meeting in Saint-Petersburg, demanded that Benezech showed proof.

"I ask him to express himself more precisely in the way he says he knows things, more than just approximations like 'they said' or 'maybe' and which does not really correspond to what I expect from a player who talks about this subject," Lapasset told AFP.

"Does he have proof? As a player, he would have been able to say it for some time if that was the case."

Lapasset said he could not envisage then-France coach Berbizier getting involved in anything like that.

"In 1995, it was a time when several foreign players had arrived (in France), we knew that there were countries which didn't have anti-doping controls," he acknowledged.

"So I said 'Be careful'. We spoke about it but that's just responsible management which we must have at times like that.

"Personally speaking, I've never had any knowledge of elements related to doping in the France team."

Lapasset concluded: "We'll see what the Senate inquiry says about Benezech's claims and I will respond to it if it's necessary to respond. I've absolutely no fear of the subject."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130531/rugbyu-no-knowledge-french-doping-says-irb-chief