Danny Grewcock, the disgraced British and Irish Lions lock, last night protested his innocence after he was found found guilty of biting an opponent and banned for two months.
The 32-year-old Bath and former Coventry forward is to fly home from New Zealand following yet another run-in with rugby's disciplinary chiefs.
Although Grewcock's latest suspension will run until August 26, he effectively misses a maximum of four games, including the second and third Tests against the All Blacks.
He was cited by match commissioner Willem Venter for allegedly biting New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu's finger during the Lions' 21-3 first Test defeat in Christchurch.
The punishment, handed down by judicial officer Terry Willis after a marathon eighthour hearing, follows previous bans Grewcock collected in New Zealand seven years ago and last summer.
Wales lock Brent Cockbain is the favourite to replace Grewcock in Sir Clive Woodward's squad, with a decision expected during the next 24 hours.
"I am obviously very disappointed at the outcome of the hearing," said Grewcock, who was accompanied by Lions tour manager Bill Beaumont and Lions legal counsel Richard Smith QC.
"I do not agree with the decision, because as I argued to the hearing, I did not bite the player at all.
"But I have to accept the decision and that means for me the tour is over. I have decided, therefore, that I will return home as soon as I can.
"I think that is the best course of action for me and for the tour. I now hope that the rest of the Lions squad go on to win the next two Tests.
"I am just sad they will have to do it without me and I wish them all the very best for the remaining matches on the tour."
Grewcock would have probably started next Saturday's second Test in Wellington, given the Lions' acute lineout problems on Saturday, but foul play has once again got the better of him.
Mealamu complained to match officials that he had been bitten during the 63rd minute at Jade Stadium, barely six minutes after Grewcock appeared off the replacements' bench.
" The judicial officer accepted that Mealamu's fingers inadvertently entered Grewcock's mouth at the breakdown, but rather than removing the fingers in a more conventional way, Grewcock bit Mealamu's right ring finger, and accordingly, he found that the player was guilty of biting," said the judicial finding report.
Lions head coach Woodward added: "If Grewcock has done something untoward, then we fully accept the punishment, as we always do. You accept it and move on."
Grewcock's absence from the remainder of a difficult tour continued the bad news for the Lions after Woodward revealed flanker Richard Hill has a career-threatening knee injury.
The 32-year-old Saracens forward limped off 18 minutes into Saturday's match. Tests later revealed he had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament and that has not only ended his tour, but left his career in the balance.
The injury followed the exit of captain Brian O'Driscoll with a dislocated left shoulder inside the opening two minutes.
Woodward has insisted his players will not seek retribution for O'Driscoll's injury following a controv e r s i a l spear- tackle by Tana Umaga and Mealamu.
Woodward was furious Umaga and Mealamu were not cited for their x-rated clash which ended the Irish centre's involvement in the tour.
However, he is adamant the men he sees as the villains of the piece will not be targeted in the second Test in Wellington at the weekend.
"No, I do not think that will happen," said the Lions coach.
"It is a professional game and no player, in my opinion, or certainly no player who is working under me, would ever want to go into a game purposely to try to hurt another player, so that is not going to happen.
"It just makes it a little bit more of a tense affair."
Indeed, despite suggestions to the contrary, Woodward does not believe the All Blacks deliberately targeted the Leinster three- quarter, although he could not contain his anger at citing commissioner Venter's decision not to refer the incident in which O'Driscoll was hurt.
"These things do happen in our sport. You hate it when it happens, you hate it when your player is involved, but we have a process in place to handle it," he said.
"I am just disappointed the process has not been put in place so that the players involved can clear their names one way or the other.
"I do not think for one second they have gone out to deliberately hurt the player. I think it is just a bad situation, but that is what happens sometimes and you have got to deal with it."
That is a view which was backed up by All Blacks great Zinzan Brooke.
He said: "You do not intentionally go out there and look for a guy like Brian O'Driscoll - he is the star of the team, he is the anchorman for the whole team - and say 'Right, let's get him off'. You just do not think that way."
The disciplinary issues, however, were only one part of the fall-out from a game in which the Lions were decidedly second-best, and
Woodward has admitted that he made errors which he will attempt to rectify by next weekend in Wellington.
"I have to say, it is one of the most disappointing games I have ever been in charge of," he said. "Before the game, especially when the weather turned, I was feeling very confident.
"There has been a lot of debate about selection, but I was absolutely convinced that we had the right team because we had gone for a very good scrum, but in particular, a good line-out.
"Rugby is very simple: you have got to get the ball, you have got to get the ball from the scrum and you have got to get the ball from the line-out, and we just had an horrendous evening in the line-out, which did take me back because it was there I thought we had a big strength.
"They dominated the ball and then the game just seeps away from you and I do not think anyone would say New Zealand did not deserve to win but there will be some changes this weekend, just because for one, we have had injuries behind the scrummage, and I can hold my hand up and I got one or two things wrong on hindsight, which I intend to fix this week."