Munster's Alan Quinlan will play no part in the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa after he was banned for 12 weeks by the Independent Disciplinary Committee at the ERC headquarters in Dublin on Wednesday.
Quinlan had been charged with allegedly making contact with the eye area of Leinster captain, Leo Cullen, during Munster's Heineken Cup semi-final loss to their great rivals at Croke Park on May 1.
The hearing got underway at 1pm on Wednesday with the three-man committee chaired by Roger Morris of Wales. Simon Thomas [Wales] and Mike Hamlin [England] also heard the case.
The Tipperary native becomes the third player, after Ireland scrum-half Tomás O'Leary and Wales' Tom Shanklin, selected in a 37-man Lions squad in April to be ruled out.
Rugby chiefs said Quinlan had a case to answer after TV cameras appeared to catch him making contact with Cullen's right eye during the match which Munster lost 25–6.
"After considering the evidence, the independent Disciplinary Committee determined that the offence was at the low-range of the level of seriousness for an offence of this type," Wednesday's verdict read.
"Having taken into account any mitigating and aggravating factors the independent Disciplinary Committee suspended the player for a period of  twelve weeks starting today, May 13th, and running up to and including September 9th 2009.
"The 12 week suspension is for 12 playing weeks. The off-season is not included in the period of ineligibility and he will be eligible to resume playing on September 10th, 2009."
The 34-year-old flanker now has 72 hours in which to lodge an appeal following written confirmation of the suspension by the disciplinary committee.
If Quinlan decides to appeal the ban it is unlikely any hearing would take place within the next week.
Leicester and England flanker Tom Croft is favourite to replace Quinlan on the tour to South Africa.
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