STADE Francais prop David Attoub has been banned from playing until April 2011 after being hit with the second longest ban for eye-gouging in professional history.
Attoub’s 70-week suspension relates to a clash with Ulster flanker Stephen Ferris during last month’s Heineken Cup defeat to the Irish province. The 28-year-old was found guilty last week but judge Jeff Blackett took extra time to decide on how to punish what he called “the worst act of contact with the eyes that I have had to deal with.”
Attoub was provisionally suspended on 18 December, when Blackett first adjourned the case after Stade questioned the authenticity of photographic evidence. That doubt was later dismissed, and Blackett criticised Attoub’s “evasiveness” at the hearing. “It was this evasiveness,” he said, “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.”
Attoub’s team-mate Julien Dupuy had his 24-match ban reduced to 23 on appeal for gouging in the same match. The longest ban was a two-year suspension handed to Colomiers prop Richard Nones in 1999 for gouging against Pontypridd.