Rugby Union: Clement caught in pill storm: Welsh deny drug story

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ANTHONY CLEMENT, the Lions and Wales full-back, was at the centre of a storm in a pill-bottle last night when a French news report implied that he and Jean-Baptiste Lafond had tested positive for drugs before last month's France-Wales match. The report was followed by instant denials all round, with the French rugby federation saying it had still to receive the final results of the tests.

Clement, 26, was in too poorly a state when he was put to bed in Paris to know what he was taking but whatever he was prescribed it came directly from the Welsh Rugby Union honorary surgeon, Malcolm Downes.

Confusion may have arisen because the French ministry of sport's banned list differs from that of the International Olympic Committee, to which national rugby unions subscribe. 'I'm astounded,' said Clement, who was off work with flu yesterday and missed last night's Welsh First Division match against Newport.

'Malcolm gave me two tablets. I went to bed, got up the next day and played the game. I'm not taking this lying down; I'm thinking of taking further action.' As the WRU honorary physician, John Davies, is chairman of the International Rugby Board's drugs panel, it is unthinkable that there was any wilful infraction of the regulations.

Denis Evans, the WRU secretary, said last night: 'We are confident that the medication given to Tony Clement under the supervision of our medical staff was correct. I have contacted the French federation and they have told me they know nothing about this matter.

'Tony Clement was ill prior to the game in Paris and had to be sent to bed on the night the team arrived. He was treated for sickness and dysentery and also received some sleeping-pills. There was enough concern over his condition for the team management to call for a replacement player, Wayne Proctor.

'The WRU medical staff are convinced there was no infringement of IOC regulations. Tony gave a full list of the medication he had taken to the drugs-testing officer in accordance with normal testing rules.'

As for Lafond, the 31-year-old full- back who was about to play his last game for France, he told officials he had been treated for a cough. One of the French federation doctors said last night that the medication Lafond had received, Pholcodine, was not on the IOC proscribed list.

The World Cup Sevens at Murrayfield this month is in danger of losing money despite pounds 1m worth of ticket sales, the organisers have admitted.