Bernard Laporte will retire from his role as president of the French rugby federation after his corruption conviction, but could return to the top.
Former France coach Laporte wanted to remain in charge at the association (FFR), but accepted a decision by his ethics committee on Monday requiring him to relinquish the power.
Sentenced to a two-year suspended prison sentence on Tuesday, Laporte resigned from his role as World Rugby vice-president within hours as an act of “self-suspension”. He now he will follow a similar path with the highest authority of French rugby.
An investigation looked into a number of decisions Laporte made that favored Mohed Altrad, the president of Top 14 side Montpellier, including awarding a French national team kit sponsorship deal to Altrad’s construction business .
Laporte, who was France’s head coach between 1999 and 2007, was also hit with a €75,000 fine and a two-year rugby union ban from the Paris criminal court.
He denied any wrongdoing and must appeal his judicial punishments. As a result, the FFR did not permanently oust Laporte at this stage, giving him a chance to clear his name.
The ethics committee told the 58-year-old he must accept “provisional withdrawal, as a precaution until a final criminal decision” from all presidential posts, with the insertion of a temporary successor.
According to the FFR, Laporte chose to follow instructions “to the letter.” He will remain president, at least officially, but he will be impotent.
“He is being asked to temporarily retire while the final criminal decision is made,” the federation said.
“This implies in particular that the president will no longer participate in the various decision-making bodies of the French Rugby Federation and will no longer sign any commitments within the framework of the FFR”.
The FFR said it wants the action to take effect following a meeting between Laporte and Amelie Oudea-Castera, France’s sports minister, scheduled for Thursday.
Oudea-Castera was among the first to call on Laporte to step down after his conviction, saying it would be inappropriate for him to retain control ahead of France’s Rugby World Cup host next year.
He also expressed opposition to the idea of a substitute president, questioning the “legitimacy” of such a presence at the top of the organization.