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22 Jan 2010 12:22
Stade Francais prop David Attoub has lodged an appeal against the 70-week ban he received for gouging Ulster lock Stephen Ferris during a European Cup clash in December, Cup organisers confirmed on Friday.
Attoub received the ban earlier this week after being found guilty of an offence that the disciplinary official who imposed the penalty labelled “the worst act of contact with the eyes that I have had to deal with”.
The ban was backdated to start on December 18 and, unless Attoub succeeds in having it reduced on appeal, he will not be allowed to play until April 22, 2011, ruling him out of the remainder of the current European season and most of next term’s campaign.
An independent appeal panel will be convened as soon as possible to hear Attoub’s case against the severity of the sanction handed down by Jeff Blackett, an English judge who handles disciplinary matters for the Rugby Football Union.
Blackett described Attoub’s action as a “case of deliberate eye gouging,” and accused the player of giving a “less than truthful” account of his actions.
The ban follows a 24-week ban given to Attoub’s teammate and scrum-half Julien Dupuy, who also gouged Ferris in the same match. Dupuy, who began the year as a starter in the French international lineup, appealed but his ban was only cut by a week.
The French duo have been caught up in a crackdown ordered by the International Rugby Board in the wake of a furore over the eight-week ban received by South Africa flanker Schalk Burger for gouging British and Irish Lions wing Luke Fitzgerald during last year’s second Test in Pretoria.
Stade Francais’s president, Max Guazzini, has accused Blackett of anti-French bias.
“We tumbled upon an over zealous judge and with an anti-French bias.
Burger got eight weeks for the same offence, Attoub receives 70 weeks.
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