`News of the World' denies spiking Dallaglio's drinks

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The Independent Online
THE NEWS of the World yesterday dismissed as "nonsense" claims that its reporters had spiked Lawrence Dallaglio's drinks before the former England rugby captain admitted taking and dealing in drugs.

Supporters of Dallaglio believe his admissions - which he has since withdrawn - may have come as a result of something being added to his champagne, although yesterday the newspaper asked: "Was that...a truth drug or a lie drug, Mr Dallaglio?"

According to Sara Pearson, Dallaglio's spokeswoman, the rugby international was not personally claiming his drinks were spiked but others had made the suggestion to him. She said his partner, Alice Corbett, believed he had behaved oddly after his two meetings with the reporters earlier this month. "We're not making these claims because they are simply not provable," Ms Pearson said. "However, other people have asked him how he felt [after the meetings] and he told them he felt very strange. His girlfriend said he seemed odd after seeing the reporters. He has no recollection of what happened. It's all a blank to him." Asked how a spiked drink could make a person suddenly knowledgeable about different types of drugs and their effects, Ms Pearson replied: "Perhaps these things can dredge up forgotten things from the past."

Dallaglio resigned as England captain following a report headlined: "England Rugby Captain Exposed as Drug Dealer". In the story, Dallaglio, 27, admitted smoking cannabis and taking ecstasy during celebrations after the British Lions victory over South Africa in 1997. He also claimed he had made "big, big" money from dealing in drugs while a student.

Last week he admitted experimenting with drugs when he was younger but categorically denied ever dealing in them. Yesterday, there were further drugs allegations, which Dallaglio rejected. "I have not taken drugs during my rugby career," he said. "I have admitted experimenting with drugs in my youth, which I bitterly regret. However, I vigorously refute the suggestion that I have ever dealt in drugs.

"My future lies in the hands of the RFU investigating body and I shall be co-operating fully with them. I very much look forward to resuming my career." Suggestions that his drinks were spiked were treated with derision at the News of the World.

In an editorial yesterday, the paper rejected suggestions that the player had not seen the bottles of champagne opened in front of him. "For Mr Dallaglio's information, our tape, watched by the Rugby Football Union panel, shows the ex-England skipper opening one bottle himself," the paper said.