Jarrod Mullen’s NRL career is all but over after the Newcastle Knights veteran was suspended for four years for doping offences.
The governing body on Wednesday rubbed out the one-time NSW Origin playmaker until 2021 after he was found guilty of taking banned steroid Drostanolone by the NRL’s anti-doping authority.
The 30-year-old has 21 days to appeal the decision and take the NRL to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Mullen delivered a positive result for Drostanolone after a routine swab test during pre-season training last year.
In March, the Australia Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) recommended Mullen be banned for four years however he chose not to accept the punishment and appealed to the NRL anti-doping tribunal.
He pleaded for leniency, arguing he was not attempting to gain a competitive advantage but was hoping to repair his body after suffering a second serious hamstring injury in a year.
Mullen, who played 211 games for the Knights since debuting in 2005, was provisionally suspended on January 17.
On Wednesday he was suspended after the anti-doping tribunal, chaired by former High Court judge Ian Callinan, found he had violated the game’s anti-doping policy.
“As we have said all along, this has been a disappointing matter for all parties,’’ Knights chief executive Matt Gidley said.
‘‘We wish to reiterate this matter took place independently of the club.”
He acknowledged Mullen’s talent.
‘‘It is important to acknowledge Jarrod made a significant contribution to the club over a long period of time and that adds to the disappointment in how he now departs the club,” he said.
ASADA chief executive Ben McDevitt said Mullen had paid a high price for his error.
‘‘ASADA will continue to work to protect those athletes who make the right decisions when it comes to injury treatment and rehabilitation,” he said. ‘‘Ultimately, Mr Mullen has paid a heavy price for his poor decision making.’’
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg previously said he was saddened by Mullen's drugs saga.
"Anyone who loses a career, it's disappointing for them, and ultimately disappointing for the game. But there are always consequences for poor decisions," he said.