Bernard Laporte has been given a two-year suspended prison sentence and a £64,000 fine after being found guilty for bribery and corruption in his role as World Rugby Vice Chairman.
Laporte, who is also the French Rugby President, stepped down from his position at World Rugby just hours after the verdict. The news comes just nine months before France hosts the World Cup.
A statement from the sport’s governing body read: “World Rugby notes the decision by World Rugby Vice-Chairman Bernard Laporte to self-suspend from all positions held within its governance structures with immediate effect following his conviction by the French court in relation to domestic matters, and pending his appeal.
“While acknowledging Laporte’s self-suspension and right of appeal, given the serious nature of the verdict World Rugby’s Executive Committee has referred the matter to its independent ethics officer for review in accordance with its integrity code.”
World Rugby then declared that it will not be making further comment until the conclusion of the independent process.
Laporte has also been banned from the sport for two years – but this has been suspended pending his and his lawyer’s plans to appeal the claims.
The 58-year old Frenchman, who was sentenced by the Paris Criminal Court, has also been handed a £64k fine for illegal conflict of interests, insider influencing and passive corruption. He was found guilty on four out of five charges.
The suspension comes within a few months after Claude Atcher’s sacking as Chief Executive of the France 2023 Rugby World Cup following an investigation into his workplace conduct.
Atcher had been suspended since August following a L’Equipe report that he ‘fostered a climate of terror’ throughout the competition’s organising committee.