Doctor says 1998 France squad blood samples were suspicious

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The Independent Football

French football came under attack yesterday when a former doctor to the national side claimed there were "anomalies" in blood tests carried out on members of the World Cup-winning squad of 1998.

In a book published today and serialised in the French press, Jean-Pierre Paclet, the team medic from 2004 to 2008 and doctor to the youth team in 1998, alleges: "There were anomalies that prompted questions, but they were not explored... Of course, it's not certain they would have found proof at the time if they had pressed on with the analysis."

Several players, Jean-Marcel Ferret, who was the team doctor in 1998, and the current coach have responded angrily to the allegations. "We found nothing," Ferret told Le Parisien. "There were two slight anomalies concerning the level of red blood cells. But they were linked to tiredness from the league. My conscience is clear." New Les Bleus coach Laurent Blanc has called the allegations fantasies.

Paclet says his motivation for writing the book was annoyance at the way the French football team has been run for the last two years. "[Former coach Raymond] Domenech is very manipulative and played a lot of psychological games," he says, recounting a boot-room quarrel between the former French captain Thierry Henry and Domenech. The coach called the whole team useless, whereupon Henry told him he was a useless coach who provided no guidance.

And the doctor recalls the build-up to Zinedine Zidane's famous World Cup final headbutt in 2006. Zidane was on the ground being treated for a shoulder injury when Marco Materazzi came up behind Paclet to say: "You won't do any good, docteur de merde. He's dead, the old man. Get it? He's dead."