Police have raided the headquarters of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) amid ongoing investigations into alleged favouritism involving its president Bernard Laporte.
Laporte denies allegations he pressured the FFR appeals committee to reduce a sanction against Montpellier.
The Top 14 club is owned by Mohed Altrad, with whom 53-year-old Laporte had a previous business relationship.
Sources cited by Reuters and AFP say Laporte’s home has also been searched.
Police searches took place at the federation’s headquarters in Marcoussis, a southern suburb of Paris where the France team is currently preparing for the Six Nations.
Laporte – a former France coach and sports minister – was accused of conflict of interest after it emerged that a company he owns, BL Communication, had signed an image rights contract with Altrad’s eponymous Altrad Group early last year.
Laporte later pulled out of the 150,000 euro deal but the case was investigated by the French Sports Ministry before being passed on to the public prosecutor.
Earlier this month, the Altrad Group secured shirt sponsorship rights for the French national rugby team in a five-year deal worth 35m euros.
France will host the 2023 Rugby World Cup after beating rival bids from South Africa and Ireland.