Rugby Union: Clement and Lafond relieved: French reports of failed drug tests in Paris prove to be false

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TONY CLEMENT and Jean- Baptiste Lafond did not fail drug tests after last month's international between France and Wales in Paris, it was disclosed yesterday - despite reports to the contrary in the French media.

Both full-backs admitted they had been given medicine for sickness before the match. They maintained their innocence and were vindicated by Bernard Lapasset, the president of the French Rugby Federation, who said: 'Michele Alliot-Marie (the French sports minister) just gave me the result of the dope tests. The tests are negative.'

Clement, who has been selected to tour New Zealand this summer with the Lions, was understandably indignant.

'I've been proved innocent without ever having been guilty,' he said. 'I always knew I was never going to be in trouble. I wasn't at all worried that I was going to fail the test because I have complete faith in the Welsh medical team. What did embarrass and annoy me, however, was the thought that the average person sitting at home hearing the initial news might have thought I had done something wrong.

'I feel as though my character has been brought into question and that doubt might have been placed in some people's minds about whether I used something illegal. That is not, and never has been, the case and I welcome the chance to clear my name. I hope that in the future people learn to stick to the proper procedures so that players like Lafond and myself don't suffer.'

Ironically, the players could face each other again on Monday when Swansea, Clement's club, host the Barbarians, whose party includes the Frenchman.

A shoulder injury will keep Will Carling, the England captain, out of Harlequins' Pilkington Cup semi-final against Wasps tomorrow. Mark Evans steps in. Leicester's first-choice back row will be re-united for their semi-final against Northampton after Dean Richards and Neil Back reported fit from injury worries. Back had a shoulder problem which caused him to miss Leicester's last league fixture and an England A international, while Richards has overcome a calf muscle strain.