Bernard Laporte has won re-election to the seat of the president of France Rugby despite being arrested by fraud squad police less than two weeks ago.
Laporte was elected to another four-year term by winning 51.47 per cent of the vote on Saturday ahead of rival Florian Grill who claimed 48.53 in the two-horse race.
France rugby re-elects Laporte
The incumbent was heavily favoured to win the election although his arrest did cast some doubt on the final result. A small percentage of eligible voters did not cast a ballot.
Laporte was taken into custody by police and questioned alongside Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad about his links to the Altrad Group and alleged favouritism towards the club by France Rugby.
The 56-year-old former France international has maintained his innocence and expressed confidence in being vindicated when the investigation is concluded.
“I approached these ‘talks’ with serenity. When you have nothing to be ashamed of, you have the strength of truth with you,” Laporte said of his grilling by the fraud squad.
“Justice will do its work and I trust it. I know the truth of my actions and they are all in the best interests of our clubs, without ever being an exception to the rule.”
Denials and promises from rugby boss
Altrad’s company is the shirt sponsor of the French national team, and the billionaire offered financial support in France’s successful bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup. France managed to sway the vote away from the recommended bid from South Africa in a controversial vote.
Laporte also stands accused of reducing a France Rugby sanction against Altrad’s Montpellier.
The official promised that once he was re-elected and cleared a day of reckoning would come for his accusers.
“I am more determined than ever to beat the campaign, to see the clubs that I love so much and for which I signed up four years ago when I left the professional world which paid me dearly,” said Laporte a week ago.
Asked why there is hostility toward him, Laporte said after being released by police: “I do not know. What is certain is that after 3 October, those who have a lot to do with it [in this affair] will be held to account. This is the only thing I have to say.”
“These are not threats, but those behind it will be held to account when the time comes.”