Planet Rugby

'Doping was rife in the 70s and 80s'

01st April 2013 12:18

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Jean Pierre Elissalde

Jean-Pierre Elissalde has

Former France scum-half Jean-Pierre Elissalde has admited taking performance-enhancing drugs and claims that doping was rife in the 1970s and 1980s.

The former Japan, Bayonne and La Rochelle coach, who won five caps for les Bleus between 1980 and 1981, has admitted to taking amphetamines twice during his playing career, adding that the practice was widespread.

The 59-year-old also pointed a finger at southern hemisphere players who came to France during his era as being particularly guilty but insisted that he believes the modern game is much cleaner.

"In the 1970s and 1980s amphetamines were widely taken," Elissalde told radio station France Bleu.

"It was taken by cyclists, by footballers, and obviously by rugby players.

"There is nothing extraordinary in that. Afterwards there were other forms of doping, notably in order to be able to work harder and to put on muscle."

"The players from the southern hemisphere, when they played down under they produced incredible performances but when they played here, they had more success around the barbecue."

Elissalde, who is the father of former French scrum-half and current Toulouse backs coach Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, made it clear however that times have changed and that he had not seen organised doping during his time as a coach.

"I personally played 500 matches elite matches and took amphetamines twice," he told Midi Olympique

"Rugby 30 years ago was dirty.

"Today there might be isolated cases of doping but I swear I've never witnessed doping in the changing rooms as a coach.

"I'm not blind: I saw muscle masses evolve at a surprising rate in the 90s. But until there is evidence that suggests otherwise, nothing can be proved."

Elissalde's comments came in the wake of last week's revelations by a French anti-doping agency (AFLD) director that rugby had returned the highest proportion of positive doping tests in the country last year sparking angry reaction from the French rugby players' union Provale, the French Federation and a number of high-profile players and coaches.

Provale noted that of 22 abnormal controls in 2012, only two constituted serious offences.

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