Doping claims disrupt France’s 6N preparations

France’s preparations for their Six Nations championship match against Wales has been disrupted by renewed claims about systematic doping in the sport in the 1980s.

France’s national rugby union team was a vast consumer of amphetamines in the 1980s including in a famous win over the All Blacks, according to a new book.

“They each had their little pill in front of their plates for the meal before the match,” French team doctor of the time, Jacques Mombet, is quoted as saying in the book.

Mombet said the drug taking was most obvious when France played New Zealand at Nantes in 1986.

The match became dubbed “The battle of Nantes” for its ferocity which resulted in All Black legend Wayne Shelford being knocked out and losing several teeth in the process. France beat the All Blacks 16-3.

Centre Remi Lamerat, who has been drafted into the midfield in place of the barrel-chested Mathieu Bastareaud, says the negative atmosphere surrounding the team is something they are used to, with criticism about their style of play particularly prevalent recently.

“Of course it affects us because we’d like everything to be great and perfect,” said the Castres back ahead of the match at the Stade de France.

“The criticisms about our style of play are quite fair but we don’t come out too badly these days in comparison to the Irish and Welsh.

“I don’t really enjoy watching Wales, they have a very direct style and don’t play many passes.

“But it’s very French to criticise the national team, although sometimes I do understand the criticisms and people’s frustrations.”

This is a must-win clash for both sides if they are to harbour hopes of winning the Six Nations.

Both have beaten Scotland but already lost once — Wales to England (21-16) and France against Ireland (18-11).

With England unbeaten ahead of their Sunday trip to Dublin to face the reigning champions, a second defeat would be all but fatal to either the Welsh or France’s title chances.

Wales have won the last three, including a 16-6 victory in Paris two years ago, since losing the 2011 World Cup semi-final to Les Bleus.

North, who takes over from Alex Cuthbert, is one of four changes for the Welsh with hooker Scott Baldwin replacing Richard Hibbard and prop Samson Lee returning to the team following his concussion. Charteris also comes in.

Apart from Lamerat, France have made another four changes, three of them enforced due to injuries and Pascal Pape’s suspension.

Sofiane Guitoune (wing), Romain Taofifenua (lock), Morgan Parra (scrum-half) and Brice Dulin (full-back) have all been picked.

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