Rhys Webb (L) made the last of his 40 Wales appearances in March 2023

Paris (AFP) - Former Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb said on Wednesday he will appeal a four-year ban from the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) for taking a growth hormone substance.

Webb, 35, tested positive in July 2023 and was provisionally banned the following month having joined French second-tier club Biarritz earlier in the year.

The ex-Ospreys half-back is unable to train as a player, coach or work in an administrative role of a rugby team until June 21, 2027 – when he will be 38 years old.

Webb’s lawyer Dominique Laplagne said they had sought legal support from France’s top administrative court.

“The sanction imposed on Rhys Webb is not final,” Laplagne said in a statement posted on the player’s Instagram page.

“We have immediately instructed a lawyer at the Conseil d’Etat (France’s highest administrative court) to lodge an appeal to overturn the AFLD’s decision.

“He has never undergone any other disciplinary procedure, of any kind, during his long career as a professional athlete and has never used any doping product, growth hormone in particular,” the statement added.

Webb played three Tests for the British and Irish Lions in 2017 and had announced his international retirement in May last year.

Laplagne also queried the AFLD’s “incompetencies” during the testing process, pointing to the sperate samples taken by the body.

“The variability of the results between the two analyses of bottles A and B, only 6 weeks apart, with a drop in blood GH (growth hormone) of 31 percent, whereas a maximum of 15 to 20 percent is tolerated in any human biological assay, calls into question the reliability of the analysis,” Laplagne said in the statement.

“I ask that Rhys Webb’s presumption of innocence be respected and we’ll get the outcome he deserves,” Laplagne added.