Following his suspension pending a UK Anti Doping investigation after a failed drugs test in September last year, former Castleford full back Zak Hardaker’s ban has been confirmed.
He will be banned for fourteen months, backdated to September, meaning he will be free to resume his playing career in November this year. He will, therefore, return to action in 2019 and it is believed that Wigan Warriors will shortly confirm his signing and, in turn, possibly silence speculation on Sam Tomkins’ future regarding a move to Catalans.
The length of the ban is much shorter than some feared with a ban of two years handed out in the past to players such as Rangi Chase for a similar offence. UKAD, however, has heard evidence and concluded that exceptional circumstances led to him taking a metabolite of cocaine, hence the shorter ban.
It does, perhaps, draw into question Castleford’s decision to sack the 26 year old with four years remaining on his contract before hearing the decision of the UKAD but, maybe due to the timing of the offence and that it badly affected their preparations for their first Super League Grand Final last season, they may have decided the squad and club were better off without him.
The player’s legal team said “we believe the correct verdict has been returned and we would like to thank the tribunal for their professionalism. This was a truly exceptional case, where the drug use was never linked to performance enhancement.” They further added that Hardaker wouldn’t take a substance to gain an unfair advantage, something they were pleased the panel noted. “He was commended by the tribunal for his impressive comprehensive evidence and the fact that he made no attempt to downplay his conduct and was utterly frank with them,” they continued.