Former Sports Minister cannot guarantee France '98 squad did not dope

Marie-George Buffet, who was in the position of authority between 1998 and 2002, has revealed the intense pressure from all angles for her to leave the Bleus squad alone.

The former Minister for Sport in France has been unable to guarantee that the World Cup-winning 1998 squad did not dope.

Marie-George Buffet’s revelation came during a Senate committee hearing being held to investigate doping in the country, when she complained of stress from all angles to leave the Bleus alone in the build-up to the host nation’s tournament nearly 15 years ago.

"There were pressures of all kinds," the AFP quote her as saying. "The media jumped on me in a very violent manner.

"There had been a surge where I was accused of preventing the France team to prepare in good conditions. I felt isolated and I baulked - I was almost brought to apologize."

Buffet, who was Minister for Sport in the country between 1998 and 2002, also revealed that she was never given instructions to test the team for doping and blamed the tools at her disposal for the government’s inability to crackdown on potential cheating over a decade ago.

"We were never given a directive in this [anti-doping] sense," she said. "But then, you must put into perspective the era.

"In 1998 there was no AFLD [French Agency for the fight against doping], we did not have the equipment of today, only what the ministry could control.

"We will never have certainty about everything that happened. In 1998, no law against doping was even passed in France.

"We were at the beginning of the fight against doping. We had amateur instruments. So I cannot say anything with certainty, of course."