Zak Hardaker has been banned for 14 months by UK Anti-Doping after failing a drugs test.
The 26-year-old was sacked by Castleford Tigers on the eve of their Super League Grand Final defeat to Leeds Rhinos in October.
In a urine sample, Hardaker tested positive for the presence of benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, following an in-competition test on 8 September 2017.
A one-day hearing took place in front of the National Anti-Doping Panel and the full-back was charged by UKAD with committing an Anti-Doping Rule Violation.
It was confirmed that the period of his ineligibility to play rugby league should be limited to 14 months.
He is banned from all sport from 8 September 2017 until midnight 7 November 2018, meaning he can find a new club for next season.
The 2017 Steve Prescott Man of Steel runner-up was represented by Sam Pawson (associate) and Niles O’Donoghue (partner), solicitors specialising in Sports Law at Chadwick Lawrence in Leeds. They worked alongside Sports Law Barrister Daniel Saoul.
Hardaker’s legal team successfully argued that, as a result of a number of exceptional circumstances, he bore no significant fault in committing an ADVR.
The legal team at Chadwick Lawrence 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.
“In this regard Zak would never take any substance to achieve an unfair advantage and we are pleased that the decision of the Tribunal has recognised this fact.
“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.
“The last 2 years have been an extremely difficult period for Zak who, away from the public eye, has bravely battled a number of personal traumas.
“Zak has asked for privacy at this time but thanked his family and close friends for helping him through this difficult period.”
Hardaker has most recently been linked with a move to Wigan Warriors once he serves his suspension.