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Heineken Cup
Attoub loses gouging appeal
Scrum.com
March 4, 2010
Stade Francais prop David Attoub runs with the ball, Bath v Stade Francais, Heineken Cup, The Recreation Ground, October 18, 2009
David Attoub will serve his 70-week ban for gouging © Getty Images
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Stade Francais prop David Attoub's appeal against a 70-week ban for gouging Ulster flanker Stephen Ferris has been dismissed by an independent panel.

Attoub was handed the ban in January for gouging flanker Stephen Ferris in Stade Francais' Heineken Cup defeat to Ulster in December. European Rugby Cup (ERC) disciplinary officer Judge Jeff Blackett described Attoub's actions as "the worst act of contact with the eyes that I have had to deal with: it is a case of deliberate eye gouging."

The appeal failed as Attoub was unable to prove that Blackett's original decision had been in error.

"The Independent Appeal Committee, chaired by Professor Lorne Crerar (Scotland) and also comprising Rod McKenzie (Scotland) and Robert Williams (Wales) found that Mr Attoub had not demonstrated that the original decision had been in error and therefore dismissed the appeal," read an ERC statement.

Scrum-half Julien Dupuy was also banned for six months for gouging Ferris in the same fixture, with both decisions provoking a furious response from Stade Francais owner Max Guazzini, who descirebed Dupuy's ban as "excessive, very political and anti-French".

Attoub is now banned from playing until April 22, 2011, with Blackett's original decision having been informed by the player's disciplinary record, including a previous ban for making contact with the eyes, and also the fact that he pleaded not guilty to the charge.

"His account skated over the period when his hand was clearly near and on Ferris' face and he declined to explain precisely what he was doing other than trying to move away from where he was," Blackett said in his decision.

"When he was shown the incriminating photographs and asked to explain what he saw or what was happening he replied that he did not know. He refused to accept the possibility that his finger was in the eye. It was this evasiveness which satisfied me that his account was less than truthful and that he knew that he had deliberately attacked the eyes of an opponent but was trying to evade responsibility."

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