3rd November 2017

Criminalisation of doping may have harmed France’s Rugby World Cup bid

The criminalisation of anti-doping may have resulted in World Rugby marking down France’s bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, its Evaluation Report revealed. France was given a mark of two for ‘Rugby Services’, one point below the mark given to Ireland and South Africa. World Rugby said that the difference was due to its medical response programme, and recommended South Africa as host. A final decision will be made on 15 November.

‘Both Ireland and South Africa detailed their abilities to maximise their current elite level rugby medical programmes which are proven to be successful and both bids also demonstrated a clear understanding of the standards required of a RWC’, read the Report. ‘While France’s bid outlined a detailed tournament medical programme for a major event, it lacked in places a rugby focus and, given World Rugby’s attention to and emphasis on player welfare, this rugby knowledge and understanding is crucial to the successful delivery of the Rugby Services programme’.

However, the Report also reveals that France’s criminalisation of anti-doping was a serious concern that was taken into consideration. ‘France has in place legislation in Articles L.232-1 to L.241- 10 of the Sporting Code to support the fight against doping in the country’, it reads. ‘The proposal clarifies that, running concurrently with the World Rugby Anti-Doping Rules, it is considered a criminal offence under French law to use, hold or sell narcotics or illegal drugs, and legal action may be taken accordingly. There is therefore some element of risk here; however, France also states that this would have no impact on RWC 2023 as a tournament, including the participating teams. Furthermore, it commits to no team or Union being punishable should a player be found in violation of anti-doping rules, and while RWCL did not specifically request government commitment at this stage, France has not provided any official government documentation to support this statement and therefore this could pose a risk to the tournament and participating teams.’ 

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