Saracens and England winger Chris Ashton has been handed a 13-week ban after he was found guilty of biting Northampton's Alex Waller. The 29-year-old attended a six-hour hearing on Tuesday (20 August) and a disciplinary panel subsequently found him guilty of biting Waller on the arm during Saracens' 27-12 Premiership win at Allianz Park on Saturday.
Ashton was, however, found not guilty on a second charge of biting. The ruling means that the winger - who denied the charges - can return to action on 19 December.
The least severe punishment Ashton could have received would have been a 12-week ban, while the most severe would have seen him barred from playing for 208 weeks. Philip Evans QC, who chaired the disciplinary panel, concluded that Ashton's indiscretion was at the lower end of the disciplinary scale.
However, he also conceded that the offence was "aggravated by his previous record" - which includes being banned for 10 weeks last season for eye-gouging.
"Having considered detailed evidence the panel concluded that during the course of a ruck Chris Ashton bit the arm of Alex Waller at a time that Mr Waller was attempting to clear him out," he said in a statement. "The panel concluded it was a low-end entry point aggravated by his previous record."
The suspension is a further blow for Ashton's hopes of resurrecting his international career under coach Eddie Jones, who initially selected the winger in his Six Nations squad earlier this year before he failed to overturn his eye-gouging ban. Subsequently, Ashton was overlooked for the summer tour to Australia and has not won an England cap since 2014.