France - Football

Former French football doctor makes suspect blood sample claims

Photo: jp.paclet.pagesperso-orange.fr

A former doctor to the French national football team claims in a new book that several members of the squad gave suspect blood samples just before the 1998 World Cup. Jean-Pierre Paclet told a French newspaper on Wednesday that tests had revealed “anomalies”.

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Paclet notes that there were anomalies in certain samples and that this was suspicious, given that some French players had played with certain football leagues, “notably those in the Italian league”.

“Blood tests revealed amomalies for several Bleus just before the 1998 World Cup,” he told Le Parisien.

World Cup 2010 dossier

In reference to midfield stars Zinedine Zidane and Didier Deschamps who both played at Juventus, the doctor said, “it’s public knowledge that there were practices which were borderline, to say the least, at Juventus at that time”.

“I’m not making anything up. Having a high hematocrit level [a measure of red blood cells] did not prove that they took EPO [Erythropoietin – a hormone often used for performance enhancement in sports].

“As there was no proof we didn’t bother them,” says Paclet, the French team doctor from 2004 to 2008. “Nevertheless it can’t be said that if we had pursued the tests we would have found proof.”

However Jean-Marcel Ferret, the French team doctor at the time of the World Cup win says they “found nothing”. He admits there were anomalies regarding the level of red blood cells, “but they were linked to tiredness from the league”, adding that his “conscience is clear”.

Paclet says he wrote the book because he’d “had enough” and that he doesn’t feel like a traitor. Instead of always putting the responsibility on the players or trainer Raymond Domenech, some should be shared by the leadership, the doctor says.

On Nicolas Anelka, who was at the centre of the bust-up with Domenech during the South African World Cup, Paclet says that he was not educated by Trappes, where he began his career, but by the French Football Federation and professional football.

Although Anelka received an 18-match suspension, those who put Domenech in charge “remain in power”.

Paclet’s book, The Implosion, is due to be released on Thursday.

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