September 21, 2016, 10:23 am
London (AFP) - Saracens and England wing Chris Ashton was handed a 13-week ban for biting Northampton's Alex Waller during their Premiership match last weekend.
The punishment sidelines Ashton until December 19 and rules him out of four upcoming internationals, denting his hopes of returning to the England side.
A three-member disciplinary panel found Ashton bit Waller on the arm in the 24th minute of Saracens' 27-12 win, but ruled against a charge that he bit him again one minute later.
"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," said panel chairman Philip Evans, according to a Rugby Football Union statement.
"The panel concluded it was a low-end entry point aggravated by his previous record."
The 29-year-old received a 10-week ban last season for making contact with the eye area of Ulster back Luke Marshall in a European Champions Cup game, ruling him out of this year's Six Nations.
Ashton, known for his 'Ash Splash' try celebration, has 39 England caps but he hasn't played for his country since facing New Zealand in 2014.
Six Nations champions England will play South Africa, Fiji, Argentina and Australia in their upcoming Tests in November and early December.