Brent Naden will be free to play in the opening game of the NRL season after he was handed a one month’s suspension for drug use.
It follows the conclusion of the anti-doping processes conducted by Sport Integrity Australia and the NRL.
Naden did not contest a Notice of Alleged Anti-Doping Rule Violation in relation to positive samples for Benzoylecgonine and Methylecgonine (metabolites of Cocaine) collected from him following the NRL Grand Final on October 25.
Having established that the ingestion of the cocaine was out-of-competition and not for performance enhancing purposes, Naden is sanctioned in accordance with new provisions of the incoming World Anti-Doping Code 2021 which permit a one-month period of ineligibility for qualifying athletes who also undertake an approved rehabilitation program.
The sanction will come into effect on January 1 with the commencement of the new WADA Code.
In accordance with the WADA Code, Naden’s one-month period of suspension is backdated to the date of his provisional suspension and he will be eligible to return to training and competition on January 1.
Panthers CEO Brian Fletcher said the club will continue to support the young star.
“Brent has come to understand the significant impact of his actions on his family, our club and the game of rugby league,” he said.
“He similarly understands how fortunate he is to have the opportunity to return to the NRL in 2021.
“With the support of Panthers staff and his family, Brent continues to work through his personal issues with a view to reaching his full potential on and off the field.
“We anticipate he will return to Panthers pre-season training following the completion of his suspension.”