Jennings unsure how drugs entered body

Former Eel Michael Jennings says he doesn't know how performance-enhancing drugs entered his system.
Former Eel Michael Jennings says he doesn't know how performance-enhancing drugs entered his system.

Michael Jennings insists he did not intentionally take performance-enhancing drugs, adamant he doesn't know how it entered his body.

Jennings' NRL career was all but ended last week when he pleaded guilty to the presence of two substances in his body, cutting a four-year ban down to three.

But he claims it does not mean he deliberately took Ligandrol or Ibutamoren, and nor did he know he had it in his body.

Ligandrol is used to build and repair muscles while Ibutamoren boosts growth hormone levels. Both are consumed orally.

"While I have accepted a deal there is context behind the decision," Jennings posted on his Instagram.

"I maintain that I have never and would never intentionally use performance-enhancing substances.

"I built a career that I am proud of and I am devastated that after 15 years in the game it could end like this."

Jennings' positive test completely derailed Parramatta's 2020 finals, as news broke on the morning of their semi-final loss to South Sydney.

It also left him two matches short of the 300-match milestone, in a career that began at Penrith and also featured a premiership win at the Sydney Roosters as well as 153 tries.

Jennings claimed he had remained open with Sports Integrity Australia, and even identified possibilities of how he could have been "accidentally exposed" to the substances.

"I am unsure what, if anything, they did with that information," Jennings said.

"I also provided SIA with toxicology reports and results of hair testing, all of which were negative for the performance-enhancing substance in question."

But he claimed his biggest issue was still being uncertain how the substances appeared in the test, meaning he did not believe he would have the charge overturned.

"Ultimately, I was faced with an impossible decision," he said.

"Whether to continue to fight this case even though I had no idea how the prohibited substance entered my system or accept a one-year reduction to the four-year ban in exchange for waiving my right to have the matter determined by the NRL tribunal.

"Given it has taken almost a year to even receive the letter of charge, I faced the very real possibility that the time that it took to fight the matter could exceed the three-year ban on offer.

"It was the hardest decision of my life.

"But I have now made a decision that is in the best interest of my family and most importantly my two amazing kids."

Jennings is 33 and will be 35 before he is able to return to the NRL after three seasons out of the game.

But he claims he has not given up hope of coming back at some level.

"One day I would love to return to the great game but for now it's on pause," he said.

"I'm focusing on my kids and work until 2023."

Australian Associated Press