NRL 2020: Parramatta Eels lose Michael Jennings after positive drug test

The Parramatta Eels have been dealt a massive blow ahead of Saturday's playoff match against the South Sydney Rabbitohs after star centre Michael Jennings tested positive for a banned substance.

The Eels confirmed Jennings has been provisionally suspended after returning a positive A-sample test for Ligandrol and Ibutamoren.

The Tongan international returned the positive reading after a drug test taken on September 21 and will now have his B-sample tested. 

"The Provisional Suspension Notice asserts that Mr Jennings returned a positive A-sample for LGD-4033 (Ligandrol) and its metabolite Di-hydroxy-LGD-4033, and also Ibutamoren and its metabolites Desbenzyl Ibutamoren and OH Ibutamoren," the NRL said in a statement. 

"Each of those substances are prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the NRL's Anti-Doping Policy.

Micahel Jennings in action for Tonga at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
Micahel Jennings in action for Tonga at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. Photo credit: Getty

"Mr Jennings was tested by Sport Integrity Australia (SIA) on 21 September 2020 with the positive result received by SIA on 9 October 2020," the NRL said.

"Mr Jennings is prohibited from participating in any WADA compliant sport, including rugby league, while the provisional suspension is in place."

Jennings' suspension is a major blow to the Eels, whose premiership campaign had already been derailed by the losses of wingers Maika Sivo and fellow flanker Blake Ferguson.

Former Kiwis repersentative Brad Takairangi is likely to replace Jennings in the starting side, while early reports say the Eels have been given an exemption to add Rotorua-born wing Haze Dunster into their side. 

Dunster is yet to play in the NRL. 

The winner of Saturday's match will face the Penrith Panthers for a spot in the Grand Final on October 25.