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Last Updated:  Friday, 7 March, 2003, 15:26 GMT
De Villiers handed 'disrepute' ban
France's Pieter de Villiers
De Villiers has been capped 29 times for France
France's Pieter de Villiers has been suspended from rugby union until the end of the Six Nations after failing a drugs test.

De Villiers has been banned for bringing the game into disrepute after traces of cocaine and ecstasy were found in a random test on 18 December.

French anti-doping laws state that only performance-enhancing drugs can be sought in tests taking place out of competition, so the South African-born prop could not be punished for doping.

"We have accepted the decision of the French doping commission," French Rugby Federation (FFR) chairman Bernard Lapasset said on Friday.

"But we think that De Villiers brought the game into disrepute as a professional player and as an international player so we have decided to withdraw him from all rugby union activity until the end of the Six Nations championship."

De Villiers, 30, will now miss France's remaining Six Nations matches against Italy and Wales and one French championship match for his club Stade Francais.

But France team manager Joe Maso said he could be recalled to the national team before the World Cup in Australia later this year.

If he's back at his best, which will probably be the case, he will be considered for our June tour to Argentina and New Zealand," Maso said.

De Villiers has always pleaded his innocence, saying his drinks may have been spiked on a night out in Paris four days before he failed the test.

"I'm coming out of this feeling less naive, stronger and more careful. But I have confidence for the future - and nightclubs are over for me now," he said in a recent interview.

De Villiers, who has played 29 times for France since moving from South Africa in 1995 to play for Stade Francais is the first French rugby union international to have tested positive for banned substances.

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