World Rugby will expect exemption on French law on doping

WR sought assurances, as a positive test in France is considered a criminal offence

Bernard Laporte: “Some will vote for France despite the recommendation”. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Bernard Laporte: “Some will vote for France despite the recommendation”. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

 

World Rugby (WR) are expecting a “sporting exemption” from French law on anti-doping violations should their bid for the 2023 World Cup prove successful.

Having raised concerns about a positive dope test in France being “considered a criminal offence,” in their technical report when recommending South Africa host the 2023 World Cup, WR have received assurances that a foreign player would not be under threat of prosecution.

This is believed to include positive tests for illegal recreational drugs.

“The proposal clarifies that, running concurrently with the World Rugby anti-doping rules, it is considered a criminal offence under French law to use, hold or sell narcotics or illegal drugs, and legal action may be taken accordingly,” said the World Rugby report. “There is therefore some element of risk here; however, France also states that this would have no impact on RWC 2023 as a tournament, including the participating teams.

“Furthermore, it commits to no team or union being punishable should a player be found in violation of anti-doping rules, and while the Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) did not specifically request government commitment at this stage, France has not provided any official government documentation to support this statement and therefore this could pose a risk to the tournament and participating teams.”

Following Tuesday’s publishing of the independently commissioned report, the French bid appeared the major losers, rather than the IRFU who were clearly labelled third in the pecking order due to a number of inferior aspects within the Irish bid.

The French stadiums, while deemed “exceptional,” lost points to South Africa’s full marks due to a “lack of clarity around pitch dimensions” at soccer grounds. Other concerns exist due to the French football season being in full flow in September and October.

Issues with the French medical services also prompted RWCL board to give their unanimous support to South Africa. “While France’s bid outlined a detailed tournament medical programme for a major event, it lacked in places a rugby focus and, given World Rugby’s attention to and emphasis on player welfare, this rugby knowledge and understanding is crucial to the successful delivery of the rugby services programme.

“However, after a clarification question, France detailed that the tournament medical director would be supported by an expert committee comprised of practitioners and specialists in areas specific to rugby including concussion, neurology and head injuries.”

World Rugby also “believes some of the provided statistical information” on player safety and care “to be inaccurate.”

Furthermore, a French World Cup a year before the Paris 2024 Olympics is expected to have a negative “impact on business and operational goals.” World Rugby are experiencing ongoing issues ahead of Japan 2019, which is followed by the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Nevertheless, the Irish bid was described as “not as comprehensive or innovative” as the French offering.

“Some will vote for France despite the recommendation,” said Bernard Laporte, the French Rugby federation president.

Laporte was asked if his recent business dealings with Montpellier, own by Mohed Altrad, impacted on the bid.

“No! With Claude (Atcher, the project director), we went around the world to present our project and I was never asked about it. The only question that came up was about security. The only.”

All three bids scored the same on security measures with Ireland’s bid hindered by focusing “primarily on the management of the threat of international terrorism.”

The WR report had the French bid beating the IRFU in every category and deemed superior to South Africa in terms of predicted profitability and “hosting concept.”

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