PARIS (AP) — Racing 92 denied Friday that former All Blacks pair Dan Carter and Joe Rokocoko broke doping rules after traces of corticosteroids were found in their urine samples.
French newspaper L'Equipe reported Friday that the prohibited substances were found in samples given by Carter, Rokocoko and another player after the final of the French club competition on June 24. All players in the game, which Racing won over Toulon, were tested by the French anti-doping agency (AFLD), the sports daily said.
The French rugby federation confirmed it has opened a disciplinary case against the players after being notified of the abnormal results by the AFLD.
According to L'Equipe, Carter, Rokocoko and Argentine winger Juan Imhoff did not have exemptions to use the substances. But the agent for the former New Zealand pair, Simon Porter, said both had therapeutic use exemptions to take prescribed medicine.
Their club, however, said in a statement that the medical treatment received by the three players did not require authorization from sports authorities. World Anti-Doping Agency rules stipulate that all glucocorticoids are prohibited in competition when administered by oral, intravenous, intramuscular or rectal routes. They can, however, be used by intra-articular infiltration.
Porter told the New Zealand Herald newspaper on Friday that they have been aware of the findings "for a few weeks" and that "assurances we've had all around are all the documents around TUEs were in place."
Therapeutic Use Exemptions allow athletes with a condition that requires particular treatment to take banned drugs with permission from anti-doping organizations, event organizers and sports federations.
Racing 92 said the trio was treated several days ahead of the game but insisted they did not breach any anti-doping rules. The French champions said they received treatment days before the final and that "all medical procedure performed on players cited by the media have been in full compliance with the national and international anti-doping rules."
The Top 14 final was played in Barcelona, Spain, and AFLD received a special authorization from Spanish authorities to intervene outside France, L'Equipe said. AFLD did not immediately comment on the case.
Racing 92 pledged to deal with the case in "total transparency" and committed its support to the players, praising them for their "generosity and ethics."
Carter and Rokocoko scored 20 points between them last June as Racing beat Toulon 29-21 for its first title since 1990.
AFLD scientific adviser Xavier Bigard told The Associated Press the anti-doping organization receives about "six to eight" TUE requests from rugby players every year.
Bigard also noted that French regulations allow athletes to ask for TUEs retroactively in cases where they need emergency treatment.
"According to the information I've got, there were clearly no prior request (for TUEs) in this case," French sports minister Patrick Kanner told Franceinfo TV. "It's maybe a loophole in the French law. We are confronted with a case that is showing us that the law should be adapted to practices."