Ben Barba: St Helens full-back loses appeal against 12-game drugs ban


Ben Barba helped Cronulla to their first NRL Grand Final last year, but tested positive for cocaine just days later

Ben Barba will serve the remainder of a 12-game drugs ban imposed by Australia’s NRL after Super League club St Helens lost their appeal.

An independent panel upheld the decision to suspend Barba at Wednesday’s operational rules tribunal.

The 28-year-old full-back, who tested positive for cocaine while still a Cronulla player last year, will not be eligible to play until late August.

Barba joined Saints on 24 May after a stint playing rugby union in France.

His cross-code move to France proved a contentious one, as it meant he escaped being sanctioned because the ban only applied to rugby league.

On Barba’s return to rugby league with Saints, the RFL – who govern the Super League – sought clarity from the NRL about whether the ban was applicable outside the southern hemisphere competition.

St Helens signed Barba, who was the NRL’s player of the year in 2012 and is contracted until 2019, with knowledge of his possible ban, and chairman Eamonn McManus last week criticised the time taken for their appeal to be heard.

He has already served five matches of his 12-game ban and will be available for selection as of Monday, 28 August.

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