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Penrith Panthers star Brent Naden suspended after testing positive to cocaine after Grand Final

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Penrith Panthers star Brent Naden suspended after testing positive to cocaine after Grand Final

Troubled footy star Brent Naden is dropped after testing positive for cocaine on the night of the NRL grand final – ending horror year that saw him cop racial abuse and check into rehab

  • Brent Nade, 24, has been provisionally suspended from NRL after drug test
  • He tested positive to cocaine from a test taken on the night of the Grand Final
  • A penalty is yet to be handed down but he could only face a one month ban
  • Naden recently checked himself into a rehab facility in Sydney for alcohol issues 

Penrith Panthers star Brent Naden has been stood down after testing positive to cocaine on the night of the NRL Grand Final.

The 24-year-old had been tested by Sport Integrity Australia following the Panthers’ loss to the Melbourne Storm on October 25.

The NRL announced on Tuesday Naden had returned a positive A-sample for the recreational drug and would be banned from playing any sport while a provisional suspension is in place.

The news comes after a horror year for the young centre who recently checked himself into an exclusive Sydney rehab centre after battling issues with alcohol.

Penrith Panthers star, Brent Naden, (pictured) has tested positive to cocaine after he was tested on the night of the NRL Grand Final

The NRL in a statement said Naden was allowed to have his B-sample analysed meanwhile a penalty is yet to be handed down. 

‘The NRL has spoken with Mr Naden and advised him of the support services available to him,’ the NRL said. 

Penrith has stood behind the young player, saying they acknowledged the personal issues he had dealt with and would support him moving forward. 

‘As previously reported, Brent approached the club following the 2020 NRL Grand Final to seek help with a number of personal issues. At that time he admitted to the use of a recreational drug,’ the club said in a statement on Tuesday.

‘Panthers informed the NRL of Brent’s admission and with the support of the club, he commenced a voluntary rehabilitation program at a private health facility.

‘Working closely with Brent through this process, the club believes he has the capacity to overcome his personal issues and realise his potential.

‘Panthers will continue to provide Brent and his family the support they need moving forward.’

The 24-year-old could however face a ban as little as one month if he can prove he didn’t use cocaine to enhance his performance.  

Cocaine is prohibited in-competition by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the NRL’s anti-doping policy.

However, under new guidelines published by WADA on September 30, Naden will have the chance to significantly reduce any ban.

Naden (right) had checked himself into a rehab facility in Sydney in the week following the grand final to address issues with alcohol

Naden (right) had checked himself into a rehab facility in Sydney in the week following the grand final to address issues with alcohol

The WADA modifications, which come into effect on January 1, include a reclassification of cocaine as a ‘substance of abuse’ – drastically slashing the previous ban of two years.

‘If the athlete can establish that any ingestion or use occurred out of competition and was unrelated to sport performance, then the period of ineligibility shall be three months,’ WADA’s new code says.

‘In addition, the period of ineligibility… may be reduced to one month if the athlete or other person satisfactorily completes a substance of abuse treatment program approved by the Anti-Doping Organization.’

It’s understood any potential ban could be backdated to the time Naden entered the rehab facility in Sydney’s Northern Beaches in the week following the Grand Final.

He left the facility last week but is still receiving treatment. 

The 24-year-old had approached the club before checking in, telling them he needed to address personal issues.

The 24-year-old may be able to have his ban reduced to just one month if he can prove he didn't take cocaine to enhance his performance

The 24-year-old may be able to have his ban reduced to just one month if he can prove he didn’t take cocaine to enhance his performance

Naden suffered another low point back in August when spectators yelled racial abuse at him during a match at Gosford’s Central Coast Stadium against the New Zealand Warriors.

It’s understood eight men were escorted from the stadium after Naden reported the abuse to a sideline official. 

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said the incident affected the 24-year-old more than he expected it to, Fox Sports reported.

‘Brent’s OK. He said it’s not the first time he’s heard that in his life, but not in this forum [at a stadium],’ he said. 

‘I think it happened more than once. I don’t really know the exact details and there’ll need to be some sort of investigation after that our main objective is making sure Brent is all right.

‘He’s OK, it definitely affected him, he said he was surprised that he was affected by it.’

NRL acting CEO Andrew Abdo said the governing body took the matter seriously and racism and vilification are not tolerated by the league.

Naden is contracted with the Panthers until the end of 2021. 

Naden (left) had previously been subjected to racial abuse during a match in Gosford back in August

Naden (left) had previously been subjected to racial abuse during a match in Gosford back in August

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