Rugby’s great drugs scandal?

Date published: February 26 2015

A new book claims that the 1986 French side which defeated the All Blacks were "loaded" on stimulants during their 16-3 victory.

Investigative journalist Pierre Ballester, who has previously worked on books uncovering the truth about shamed Tour de France cyclist Lance Armstrong, quotes the French doctor Jacques Mombet as saying that France used amphetamines during what became known as the "Battle de Nantes".

“They each had their little pill in front of their plates for the meal before the match,” Mombet is quoted as saying in the book. “The Blacks realised that their opponents, unrecognisable from the previous week, were loaded.”

Former New Zealand number eight Buck Shelford, who suffered a torn scrotum in the same game, revealed that he had suspicions about the French performance for years.

“I always believed they were high on uppers or something during that Test,” said Shelford.

“I don’t think any team can come out to play like that after being beaten the way they were the week before. When they left their room you could see their eyes were all glazed. It was a brutal match.”

Shelford additionally told TVNZ: "It's one of those things that I've always believed when I look back to 1986. I always believed they were on something. Just the way they played that particular day, it's a little bit like Lance Armstrong, he denied it for so long and basically it finally got caught up with him."

Claims that drug taking was rife in 1980s French rugby haven't been in short supply over the years, with Bernard Laporte suggesting players took some drugs without knowing they were illegal when talking to a French parliament hearing in 2013.

The FFR is yet to comment on the book.