Several of the France team that beat New Zealand in the famous 'Battle of Nantes’ in 1986 were high on amphetamines, according to a new book.
L’enquête choc is written by investigative journalist Pierre Ballester, who co-wrote LA Confidentiel (which contained circumstantial evidence of cyclist Lance Armstrong having used performance enhancing drugs) in 2004 with David Walsh.
'Amphetamines* always existed in rugby,' said Jacques Mombet, who was the France team’s doctor from 1975-95 and who spent 15 years prior to that at Agen. 'In the '70s, entire teams took them … it wasn’t banned … you found them everywhere. It was systematic.'
The book refers to the 1986 series between France and New Zealand. The hosts lost the first Test 19-7 in Toulouse before recording their biggest ever win against the All Blacks in Nantes (16-3). During the match, All Blacks No 8 Wayne Shelford required stitches in his scrotum after being raked by a boot as he was trapped in a ruck. He also lost four teeth and was knocked out in another incident.
'They [the French team] each had their little pill in front of their plates for the meal before the match,' Mombet is quoted as saying. 'The All Blacks realised that their opponents, unrecognisable from the previous week, were loaded. The players were free to take them [the pills] or not.'
There is also reference in the book to the match between France and South Africa in 1997 in Paris when it's alleged that 10 prescriptions were presented by the South African camp an hour prior to kick-off covering the use of various medicinal aids such as Ventolin, an asthmatic medicine. The Boks won 52-10.
* Amphetamines improve stamina, endurance, and reaction time primarily through reuptake inhibition and effluxion of dopamine in the central nervous system.
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