Paris (AFP) – Former All Black Ali Williams and Australian international James O’Connor were arrested in Paris on Saturday in possession of cocaine, police said.
The pair, currently playing for French clubs Racing 92 and Toulon respectively, were stopped at around 3:00 am (0200 GMT) outside a nightclub near the city’s Champs Elysees avenue and found to be in possession of two grammes (0.07 ounces) of cocaine, according to police.
Williams earned 77 New Zealand caps between 2002 and 2012 and currently plays in the second row for French Top 14 club Racing 92. He was part of the All Black team that won the 2011 World Cup.
O’Connor, 26, who plays on the wing or at fullback for Top 14 rivals Toulon, appeared 44 times for Australia between 2008 and 2013. He made his debut at 18, the second youngest Wallaby in Australian rugby history.
Racing released a statement saying Williams, 35, had been suspended indefinitely but Toulon said they would wait before deciding whether to discipline O’Connor.
According to police the two men were arrested while in the act of buying cocaine from two suspected drug dealers. Plain clothes officers saw Williams in a car with the two suspects while O’Connor was outside and appeared to be acting as a lookout, police said.
When they were challenged, Williams attempted to get rid of the cocaine by throwing it away, added the police source who said the two players had clearly been drinking.
The two players are being held at a police station in the 17th district. The suspected drug dealers were also detained and police said 180 euros ($190) had changed hands in the transaction.
– ‘Serious fault’ –
Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal told AFP “no decision would be taken” until he had spoken to O’Connor.
“I won’t speak to him on Saturday. It does seem as though there has been wrongdoing,” Boudjellal said.
“But even when you kill someone you still have a hearing first. That is how it must be.”
In contrast, Racing 92 said that Williams had been suspended indefinitely pending the outcome of the police investigation.
“If the investigation confirms the possession of cocaine and the transaction, that would not only be an offence as regards the law but also a serious fault in terms of the club’s ethics,” a Racing statement said.
The arrest of Williams is a new blow for Racing 92, crowned champions of France in June.
Three Racing players including former All Black stars Dan Carter and Joe Rokocoko were cleared of doping charges in October by a French Rugby Federation commission.
The probe was ordered after the trio tested positive for corticosteroids following last season’s domestic Top 14 final. Corticosteroids can be used to combat pain, inflammation or allergies.
France’s Anti-Doping agency has appealed against the decision and summoned the trio to appear at a hearing, for which no date has yet been fixed.
More unwelcome trouble for the club came earlier this month when Carter, 34, the two-time All Black World Cup winner and three times world player of the year, was stopped for drink-driving in Paris on February 15 and admitted to making a “massive error in judgement.”
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