France rugby centre Mathieu Bastareaud today received a three-month suspension, commuted to community service, for having lied about an assault on himself while on tour in New Zealand.
The French Rugby Federation's (FFR) disciplinary committee ruled that Bastareaud's actions had harmed the wider interests of the sport.
The federation said the Stade Francais back would have to complete 18 activities related to amateur rugby before June 30, 2010, or face having the suspension enforced.
Bastareaud, 21, admitted making up a story about being attacked in the street in Wellington following France's 14-10 defeat by the All Blacks on June 20.
Federation chairman Pierre Camou referred the affair to the committee after Prime Minister Francois Fillon ended up apologising to New Zealand for the player's claims.
After a furore erupted in New Zealand, Fillon told his counterpart John Key that Bastareaud's behaviour had been unacceptable.
Wellington police found video evidence that the player had entered the team hotel on the Sunday morning uninjured and had gone to his room 25 minutes later.
Bastareaud finally admitted he had not been assaulted but received a cut and bruised face after a drunken fall in his room.
He said he had invented the assault story to avoid being sent home by the French team management and upsetting his family.
The player went to hospital suffering psychological problems but has since resumed playing for Stade.
France coach Marc Lievremont welcomed the FFR's ruling.
"It's a good sanction," Lievremont said.
"It's good that an international player will go to rugby schools."
He added that Bastareaud would certainly not be part of the France team to play three tests this November but that he would not be out of the equation in future.
"He is available for selection," Lievremont said.
"With this sanction, he again becomes a player like any other, even if it seems complicated to pick him for the November tests, as I have told him.
"But I never envisaged that we'd be without him for the 2011 rugby World Cup (in New Zealand).
"There's a lot to say about Mathieu's case, on the story and also how the media dealt with it.
"We always gave the truth as it was given to us by Mathieu," he said, insisting that he did not consider the affair a 'diplomatic' incident.
"I'm sorry that rugby's image was sullied despite everything but I don't feel that it was because of the coaching staff or players."
Bastareaud will not be appealing the ruling, according to his lawyer Patricia Moyersoen.
"Mathieu Bastareaud will not appeal. We asked that the sanction be commuted to community service," Moyersoen told AFP.
"He thought that going to spend his time at clubs, especially with youth teams, was a positive sanction and so he accepted it."
Sourced from: The New Zealand Herald
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