NRL hands down huge ban in Michael Jennings doping case

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·Sports Reporter
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Michael Jennings has accepted a three-year doping ban from the NRL.
Michael Jennings' NRL career is all but over after he accepted a doping ban which will sideline the 33-year-old until 2023. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Former Parramatta Eels player Michael Jennis has been suspended until 2023 over doping breaches, after waiving his right to a hearing this week.

Jennings was memorably handed a provisional suspension on the morning of the Eels' semi-final match against South Sydney during the 2020 season, after returning a positive test for the banned substances Ibutamoren and Ligandrol.

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Parramatta and Jennings agreed on a deal to part ways earlier this year.

While Jennings' future was still up in the air when he parted ways with the Eels back in May, on Friday afternoon it was confirmed the 33-year-old's career was all but over.

He was handed a suspension of three years, dating back to his first positive test - making him eligible to play again in 2023.

Despite suggesting he would fight the charges when they were revealed last year, Jennins reportedly waived his right to a hearing and accepted the charges.

"The National Rugby League (NRL) has suspended former Parramatta Eels Player Michael Jennings for a period of three years for breaches of its Anti-Doping Rules," a statement from the NRL read.

"Jennings elected to admit to anti-doping rule violations of presence and use of prohibited substances LGD-4033 (Ligandrol) and Ibutamoren, waive his right to a hearing before the NRL Anti-Doping Tribunal and accept the resulting sanction. This follows completion of the anti-doping process conducted by Sport Integrity Australia.

"The resulting sanction of a three-year period of ineligibility includes a one-year reduction for admission and acceptance of sanction in accordance with the provisions of the WADA Code.

"Jennings' suspension is taken to have commenced on the date of his sample collection on 21 September 2020 and Jennings will be eligible to return to competition on 21 September 2023."

Jennings was a premiership player with the Sydney Roosters in 2013, while he also had a stint with the Penrith Panthers.

With a return to the NRL in 2023 highly unlikely, Jennings will end his career having played 298 games.

He also boasts 18 State of Origin appearances for NSW, seven caps for Australia, and 12 for Tonga.

Tigers in talks to land Raider Hodgson

Meanwhile, Josh Hodgson's days at Canberra appear numbered with talks underway to move the former Raiders captain to Wests Tigers.

Hodgson is contracted with the Raiders until the end of next season, but has repeatedly been linked with a move away from the club.

The latest of those is at the Tigers, where AAP understand there have been talks about a move for as soon as 2022.

Hodgson would be an ideal option for the Tigers, who have the solid Jacob Liddle at No.9.

Jake Simpkins is the other hooker on the Tigers' roster, but he is aged just 19 and is still some time from reaching his best.

Both players swapped between the starting role at different points this season.

Canberra skipper Josh Hodgson could be on the move after a somewhat acrimonious 2021 season with the Raiders. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Canberra skipper Josh Hodgson could be on the move after a somewhat acrimonious 2021 season with the Raiders. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The Tigers still have three spots on their roster for next year after signing Tyrone Peachey last week, with more than $1 million in salary cap space available.

Hodgson started in all but one game this year for the Raiders, but Tom Starling is seen as the natural successor to his throne at hooker.

After being one of the key driving forces behind their grand final run in 2019, Hodgson relinquished the captaincy this season.

He was also critical of the club's handling of George Williams' exit, which turned ugly on the half's demands that he was able to return to the UK.

If Hodgson was to push to move north, a deal would still need to be brokered by the two clubs on how much of Hodgson's salary the Raiders would need to cover next season.

That could still remain a sticking point, with Hodgson on a considerable deal for 2022 that would still need to be honoured between the two teams.

With AAP

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