London — French rugby chief Bernard Laporte has raised the stakes in a bitter war of words over the destiny of the 2023 World Cup on Tuesday by saying that the sport risks being seen as weak over doping.
Last week, the Rugby World Cup Board recommended that the World Rugby Council award the tournament to SA after a technical report placed it ahead of rival bidders France and Ireland on an overall score across a range of criteria.
That prompted a furious response from Laporte, who is the president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR). He said the organisation would be writing to World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont, seeking a correction over what it said was a series of inaccuracies including the quality of stadiums and hotels in France.
"We are not rated as well over doping because they tell us that we are too strict! On security, we have the same number of points even though there are 52 murders a day in SA," Laporte said last week. "It’s crazy."
Laporte went further in an interview with Britain’s Times newspaper published on Tuesday, highlighting a section of the World Rugby report that says "there is a potential risk related to the criminality of antidoping violations in France" because the government had not guaranteed an exemption for players. "France is the leader in the crackdown and fight against doping worldwide," Laporte said. "If the World Anti-Doping Agency [Wada] sees this report, they will not believe it. When you read a statement like that, you allow for doping being acceptable and leaving the door open to abuse."
Laporte added: "We want World Rugby to issue a list of corrections on the material mistakes.... We want to give the delegates the correct facts.... I am not doubting the good faith of the people who compiled the report, but there was a certain amount of incompetence."