Troubled NRL player Reni Maitua has tested positive to a banned drug and has been handed a provisional suspension in what is sure to be another black mark against the code.
Maitua returned a positive test for Clenbuterol, a stimulant which builds muscle mass and reduces body fat.
Clenbuterol is not approved for human use in Australia and is also banned under the Olympic Movement's World Anti-Doping Code Prohibited Classes of Substances and Prohibited Methods.
Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) chairman Richard Ings described Clenbuterol in 2007 as "a serious performing enhancing agent", after weightlifter Mitchil Mann was banned for two years for using the drug.
"It's commonly used as a veterinary product to treat asthma in, predominantly, race horses," Ings said. "It has steroidal properties and that's why it's banned for use by athletes."
The NRL made the decision to stand down Maitua this evening Cronulla boss Tony Zappia has met with the former Test player's manager Sam Ayoub and legal counsel at the league's headquarters at Moore Park.
In a statement issued following the decision, the NRL stated it "is not in a position to give any further detail in relation to the test, which is still at the ‘A’ Sample stage."
Maitua was sacked by the Bulldogs in December last year after a series of indiscretions including a conviction for drink driving.
The news could not have not have come at a worse time for the Cronulla club, who are reeling following the revelations that several players, including Matthew Johns, indulged in group sex on a pre-season trip in 2002.
Earlier this week, NRL boss David Gallop took the extraordinary step of meeting with the Sharks' No. 1 sponsor, LG Electronics, in a bid to salvage their nine-year relationship with the club.
So far, the Sharks have lost $150,000 in sponsorship due to the group sex scandal at a time when the club is teetering on the brink of financial disaster.
The Sharks are also facing a $1.4 million loss, a $2 million bank overdraft and over $12 million in short-term debt that has still to be refinanced.
For the NRL, off-field incidents have been hogging the spotlight in 2009.
Manly star Brett Stewart charged with sexual assault following the Sea Eagles' pre season launch, while teammate Anthony Watmough is alleged to have punched a club sponsor at the same event.
Cronulla's Brett Seymour and Sydney Roosters' Jake Friend were also fined and suspended for drunken behaviour in March.