Former Penrith Panther and Englishman Zak Hardaker cops 14-month ban for cocaine use

Former Castleford utility back Zak Hardaker

After failing a drugs test in the lead-up to the 2017 Super League grand final, Zak Hardaker has been given a 14-month ban.

Suspended by Castleford after failing the test in September, he was then sacked by the club in February.

The indiscretion also ruled Hardaker out for selection for England at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

“UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) today confirmed Zak Hardaker has been suspended from all sport for 14 months following an Anti-Doping Rule Violation,” England’s governing body in rugby league said in a statement.

Hardaker tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine and is suspended from all sports until November 8.

His legal team praised the professionalism of the tribunal in reaching a decision they felt suits the indiscretion.

“We believe the correct verdict has been returned and we would like to thank the tribunal for their professionalism,” Hardaker’s legal team said.

“This was a truly exceptional case, where the drug use was never linked to performance enhancement.

“In this regard, Zak would never take any substance to achieve an unfair advantage and we are pleased that the decision of the tribunal has recognised this fact.”

His legal team also asked for privacy as Hardaker recovers from some personal traumas in addition to the ban.

“The last two years have been an extremely difficult period for Zak who, away from the public eye, has bravely battled a number of personal traumas,” continued his legal representative.

“Zak has asked for privacy at this time but thanked his family and close friends for helping him through this difficult period.”

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