Racing92 ‘hurt’ by drug allegations


Racing92 backs coach Laurent Labit admitted Saturday that the Top 14 champions had been “hurt” by revelations that traces of corticosteroids had been found in three of their players urine after winning the French title last June.

French daily L’Equipe reported this week that three players — All Blacks legend Dan Carter, fellow former New Zealand international Joe Rokocoko and Argentinian team-mate Juan Imhoff — tested positive after Racing 92 beat Toulon in the French Top 14 final in Barcelona.

“It hurts,” admitted Labit after Racing’s last-gasp 29-22 win over arch Paris rivals Stade Français in Top 14 action on Saturday.

A 79th-minute Camille Chat try sealed victory, with captain Maxime Machenaud, who scored 19 of his side’s points, converting in the last action of the match.

Commenting on the large number of cameras at the team’s home ground of Colombes in the Paris suburbs, Labit said: “It smells blood.”

Racing were at pains to dispel any notion of wrongdoing, saying the traces were the result of “treatment administered in an authorised manner”.

And Labit admitted focusing on the key clash against Stade Francais had been difficult.

“You can’t remain indifferent to these things because they are serious. When it affects people, their image, their honour and character, it becomes serious.

“But if we manage to get over this together we will thank everyone because I think that this is going to make us even stronger.”

Imhoff and Rokocoko were both in the lineup on Saturday but injured Carter watched from the sidelines. Imhoff scored his side’s first try as Racing had to fight off wave after wave of attacks from their Parisian rivals.

– ‘Channel this rage’ –

Labit said he had “spent two very difficult days”, and did not rule out the possibility of legal action being taken.

“We’re going to let the procedure reach its conclusion (French Federation decision next week). On the other hand there will be a battle against all those who let rip, who didn’t know the case at all and who were trying to gain personal benefit because normally they live in a little room.”

Scrum-half Machenaud said the entire team had been “affected by the things reported”.

“The group, the club, the fans, rugby in general was hit. Because it’s always annoying that absurd things like this call into question your work.”

Machenaud praised the mental strength of the team to be able to snatch victory.

“(The try) is perhaps a sign of strength of character. We were hurt. But we knew how to to channel this rage to win this very important match.”

It got the defending champions’ back to winning ways after two away defeats at Castres and Brive had left them in the bottom half of the table.

© 2016 AFP

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