10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
McDonnell was suspended after he tested positive to the banned drug salbutamol after the All Blacks test against France last year. He missed two games for the Highlanders but his lawyer Warren Alcock told NZPA from London today the suspension had been lifted and McDonnell was free to play rugby again.
"It is at an end for Joe McDonnell." Alcock said.
Minutes after the Six Nations drugs and disciplinary committee delivered its decision, McDonnell told NZPA he was highly relieved.
"I am over the moon." He said he had failed to declare the drug in London when the All Blacks toured England France and Wales last year. He borrowed the inhaler from a friend before the test against France.
"If I had gone through the right protocols and had signed the forms I would have been all right."
He said the lesson he had learned from the experience was to pay attention to the finer details on paperwork and rules and regulations. He said he had no problem with the rules.
"It was just a lapse on my part and I'm just sorry I have put everyone - who has been involved - through any difficulty in the last few weeks."