Wellington, New Zealand, Oct 7 – Dan Carter’s French club Racing 92 insisted Friday that the All Blacks legend had been “authorised” to receive a cortisone injection before the Top 14 final.
Racing spoke out after a French report that Carter, fellow former New Zealand international Joe Rokocoko and Argentinian team-mate Juan Imhoff had tested positive for the anti-inflammatory drug.
Paris-based sports daily L’Equipe reported Thursday that the high profile trio had failed a drug test after Racing 92 beat Toulon in the French Top 14 final in Barcelona in June.
The doping control was carried out by French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD), according to the paper.
Racing were at pains to dispel any notion of wrongdoing.
“It was treatment administered in an authorised manner, given in response to a proven condition several days before the Top 14 final and not requiring a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption),” Racing 92 declared in a statement.
“All the medical procedures on the players reported by the media were carried out in total respect of the national and international anti-doping rules,” the statement continued.
“All the medical protocols (were) clear” and there had been “complete transparency”, assured the club.
Earlier Carter’s management company, Essentially Group, which also represents Rokocoko, said they were “relaxed” about the situation because Racing’s club doctor had filled in all the required documents.
Simon Porter, an Auckland-based player agent with the group, said: “We were reassured that there was nothing to worry about, that there was no wrongdoing, that there was no case to answer for,” he told TVNZ.
“It’s just a therapeutic use, cortisone is a common drug used to treat pain and inflammation.”
Carter, widely regarded as the best fly-half ever, is world rugby’s highest paid star after moving to France following a glittering career with the All Blacks.
– Calf injury –
The 34-year-old earned 112 caps and won two World Cups with the New Zealanders, racking up a record 1,598 Test points.
He is idolised in New Zealand on a level comparable with David Beckham in Britain or Michael Jordan in the United States.
Any drug taint would be a major blow for rugby in New Zealand, which is already reeling from a series of scandals.
Porter added that the players had been “blindsided” by the news being leaked.
“The boys had been told that they had nothing to worry about. They’re not enjoying the attention but they’re pretty relaxed about it all because they’re confident that everything is in order and everything is fine,” he said.
Carter was recovering from a calf injury ahead of the Top 14 final, while Rokocoko — a winger who represented New Zealand in 68 Tests — had a knee problem.
Corticosteroids are generally used to reduce inflammation.
L’Equipe said that once alerted by the AFLD, the French Rugby Federation had 40 days to investigate the trio, who all played major roles in Racing’s upset win over Toulon.
If the probe failed to find a medical reason for the corticosteroid use, then they could face disciplinary action.
The federation has not yet commented on the report.
It comes a day after All Black scrum-half Aaron Smith admitted a recent toilet tryst with a mystery woman at a busy airport in Christchurch was a “huge mistake”.
Coach Steve Hansen said the 54-Test veteran breached team standards and sent him home from South Africa where the All Blacks play the Springboks this weekend in Durban.
It continues what has been called “the season from hell” for rugby in New Zealand, where image of the nation’s number one sport has been battered by off-field controversy.
New Zealand Rugby faced criticism from women’s groups last month over its handling of a stripper’s allegations that Chiefs players sexually assaulted her during a team night out.
And last week, the organisation made a clumsy U-turn after initially standing by promising teenager Losi Filipo over a vicious street attack on four people, including two women, in Wellington.
Filipo’s contract was eventually terminated after a massive public backlash.