RAC­ING SACK THEIR AM­BAS­SADOR

For­mer All Black Wil­liams charged with buy­ing co­caine

New Straits Times - - Sport -

FOR­MER All Black Ali Wil­liams com­mit­ted an “in­ex­cus­able er­ror” and has been stripped of his am­bas­sado­rial role for Rac­ing 92 af­ter be­ing charged with buy­ing co­caine, the French club said on Wed­nes­day.

Wil­liams, 35, a World Cup win­ner with New Zealand in 2011, was taken on by Rac­ing at the end of 2015 in a pub­lic re­la­tions role for club owner Jacky Loren­zetti’s wine com­pany and as a me­dia ad­viser to star fly-half Dan Carter.

He re-laced his boots this year to help ease a sec­ond-row short­age at the Parisian club.

But speaking at a press con­fer­ence ahead of to­mor­row’s Top 14 game at Greno­ble, Rac­ing for­wards coach Lau­rent Travers said that Wil­liams “is no longer an am­bas­sador of the club.”

Wil­liams later took to Twit­ter to apol­o­gise for the in­ci­dent.

“I made a big mis­take and I’m sorry. I feel I’ve let down our beloved rugby com­mu­nity. I will face the con­se­quences. Thanks 4 all the sup­port,” he tweeted.

French po­lice on Sun­day charged Wil­liams with buy­ing co­caine and Toulon’s Aus­tralian in­ter­na­tional James O’Con­nor with pos­ses­sion of the drug.

The pair were ar­rested in the early hours of Satur­day out­side a night­club near the Champs El­y­sees in pos­ses­sion of 2.4 grammes of the sub­stance.

Travers said that Wil­liams was “very well in­te­grated and do­ing what was nec­es­sary for the whole of the club.”

But he had com­mit­ted “an in­ex­cus­able er­ror“, he added.

The in­ci­dent is the lat­est to plague Rac­ing in what has been a test­ing sea­son af­ter their vic­tory in the French league last year.

“We’ve had a raft of them and I hope that’s it,” said Travers.

Most re­cently, two-time World Cup win­ner Carter, long re­garded as the most mar­ketable ath­lete in New Zealand, was caught drinkdriv­ing in Paris. He is also in­volved in an on­go­ing probe into the use of drugs.

Af­ter his man-of-the-match per­for­mance in the Top 14 fi­nal in June, the sport’s record in­ter­na­tional scorer with 1,598 points in 112 games tested pos­i­tive for cor­ti­cos­teroids, along with fel­low for­mer All Black Joe Roko­coko and Ar­gen­tine winger Juan Imhoff.

All three Rac­ing play­ers and the club were later cleared of any wrong­do­ing by a French Rugby Fed­er­a­tion med­i­cal com­mis­sion. But the play­ers have now been sum­moned to ap­pear be­fore the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD).

Rac­ing have also had to con­tend with last sea­son’s Top 14 player of the year Jo­han Goosen quit­ting to go back to South Africa, and Brice Dulin and Yan­nick Nyanga test­ing pos­i­tive for the banned sub­stance hi­ge­namine.

Travers in­sin­u­ated that Rac­ing, sev­enth in the league and 13 points adrift of lead­ers Cler­mont, were more ex­posed than other clubs to me­dia scru­tiny.

“We know that in other sports or even Top 14 teams, things go on and noth­ing’s writ­ten about it,” he said. AFP

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