Berbizier rubbishes doping claims
Ex France coach Pierre Berbizier has denied any involvement in the doping of players following controversial claims made by Laurent Benezech.
Former France coach Pierre Berbizier on Wednesday denied any involvement in the doping of players following controversial claims made by former international prop Laurent Benezech.
The 54-year-old former international scrumhalf told the French Senate there was no truth in claims he and former French Rugby Federation president Bernard Lapasset knowingly authorised doping by players.
Last month Benezech told the Senate he thought he'd been given cortisone injections during the 1995 World Cup, when Berbizier was national team boss, and that it could only have taken place with the management's blessing.
"These are surreal and misplaced claims," Berbizier told a senatorial inquiry into doping in sport.
"I completely deny these claims which call into question a federation that, during Lapasset's reign, never dabbled in that."
Berbizier said he only came across drugs twice during his career, suggesting that it related to recreational use of cannabis by players rather than performance-enhancing doping.
However, he did admit to feeling troubled by the morphological development of certain players, especially from the southern hemisphere, and to having had to fight against the use of creatine by other players.
"I never witnessed in the world of rugby an organised system of institutionalised doping," added Berbizier.
However, questioned about a previous claim he made in 2001 in an interview in l'Equipe magazine when he said doping was a "reality in the French league", Berbizier claimed that was merely a warning rather than a case of whistle-blowing.
Benezech's accusations also concerned the team doctor during Berbizier's tenure at the French rugby helm, Marc Bichon.
He too spoke to the Senate to deny any involvement in doping practices.
"I never obeyed any pressure whatsoever [to administer doping products to players] and had Lapasset or Berbizier asked me to do something like that I would have resigned on the spot," said Bichon.