Parramatta Eels Center Michael Jennings is due to be interviewed ahead...

Parramatta Eels Center Michael Jennings is due to be interviewed ahead...
Parramatta Eels Center Michael Jennings is due to be interviewed ahead...
Jennings was hiding in his home in west Sydney on Sunday but had previously said he was “utterly shocked” by the results.

SIA officials confiscated Jennings’ phone and computer on Saturday morning – the day of Parramatta’s end-of-season loss to the Rabbitohs – after he returned a positive sample of two performance-enhancing substances. Forensic imaging of the electronic devices can be used in his case.

Parramatta Zentrum Michael Jennings.Recognition:Getty

LGD-4033 (Ligandrol) is the substance that started anti-doping cases against swimmer Shayna Jack and former Broncos hooker James Segeyaro.

The other substance Jennings tested positive for was ibutamoren and its metabolites desbenzyl ibutamoren and OH ibutamoren. It is commonly known as growth hormone.

The speed with which SIA investigators are supposed to be interviewing Jennings would suggest that his trial may be shorter than that of Segeyaro, who was reported to have tested positive in the run-up to last year’s grand finale.

His career has been in limbo since then, and it is only in the past few weeks that he has had the opportunity to head the NRL’s Anti-Doping Tribunal, where he argued that he believed he consumed Ligandrol through a blender he was sharing with a roommate shared.

Jennings will also have the opportunity to prove that the substances found in his system contain mitigating factors, which he can confirm by requesting analysis of his B sample.

His lawyer Ben Ihle declined to comment on Sunday.

If Jennings’ case is referred to the NRL Anti-Doping Tribunal, he can reduce the mandatory four-year ban by demonstrating that there is no material error or mitigating factors on his behalf. In this case, the sentence can vary from a reprimand for up to two years outside of the sport.

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His career is already hanging by a thread at 32, but he has the safety net of at least another year under contract with the Aalen, which guarantees that he will get paid while he struggles to clear his name.

He also has an option in his favor for 2022, but the status of that remains unclear given the weekend revelations.

As with the Sharks with Xerri, the Eels could have their wage cap reset retrospectively once Jennings’ case clears and the club has decided that it will provide the Premier Winners Center with the support it needs.

However, whether they can add a replacement to the list will be determined in the coming months.

Parramatta officials on Sunday were still digesting the aftermath of the Jennings news and a direct exit from the final, but were shocked that the club’s most experienced player has a huge cloud over his career.

Melbourne-based Ihle is one of the leading sports lawyers in the country and well represented in the anti-doping arena. It represented the Essendon players during the Supplements scandal and sat on the other side of the fence with ASADA.

“I am totally against any form of cheating in sports and I am completely shocked to find myself in this position.”

Michael Jennings

He represented the anti-doping agency in the case against AFL player Ahmed Saad, who was banned for 18 months while drinking an energy drink containing a stimulant banned by WADA.

On Saturday Jennings said: “I am totally against any form of cheating in the sport and I am totally shocked to find myself in this position.

“I will do everything I can to erase my name. I have dedicated the last 14 years of my life to playing in the NRL. I would never do anything to compromise my standards, reputation, or the legacy I leave behind, especially for my son.

“This is a really difficult time for me and my family, but I will be working with Sport Integrity Australia to move this case forward and clear my name.”

Adam Pengilly is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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