RUGBY UNION: Lapasset issues doping warning

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The Independent Online
TEAMS PLAYING matches in France in the World Cup later this year have been warned that they could face anti-doping raids similar to those in last year's Tour de France.

Bernard Lapasset, the French Rugby Union Federation president, said yesterday that teams should be prepared for the worst.

"I'm telling you solemnly, World Cup matches played in France will be matches of fear for teams breaking French laws on doping," he said.

Several matches during the World Cup in October and November are due to take place in France, including one of the quarter-finals. France has toughened its stance over drug abuse under Sports Minister Marie-George Buffet, and Lapasset said he was "distressed" by the lack of international response to his request for tougher anti-doping policies in rugby union.

No amount of drugs could help Scotland end their four-match tour of South Africa on a high note despite their second-half fightback after trailing the Gauteng Lions 30-11 at half-time on Saturday. They came back to lose by only 33-31, though, and Laurie Mains, the former New Zealand coach now in charge of Gauteng, warned against writing off Scotland's World Cup hopes.

"Any team that underestimates Scotland would be foolish to do so," he said. "This is a fine Scotland side. They played very well in the Five Nations and I thought they played some very good rugby today. They come at you and come at you again."

Massimo Mascioletti, the former Italy winger, will take over from Georges Coste as the national coach after the World Cup in November.