Maitua suspended over positive drug test - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Maitua suspended over positive drug test

20/05/2009 08:33:43 PM Comments (0)

Reni Maitua's rugby league career appears in tatters after the Cronulla forward was suspended by the NRL for testing positive to a banned substance.

The former international tested positive to Clenbuterol, an anabolic agent used to improve muscle mass and reduce body fat, following a routine Australian Sports Drug Agency test three weeks ago.

The NRL imposed a provisional suspension effective immediately, pending the results of tests on Maitua's B sample.

Clenbuterol is on the World Anti-Doping Agency's Prohibited List, with a doping offence in relation to its use leading to a possible two-year ban.

Maitua and his manager Sam Ayoub met with Sharks chief executive Tony Zappia in Sydney on Wednesday night, Maitua avoiding the waiting media scrum by escaping through a back exit.

The positive test continues an wretched year for both the NRL and the Sharks, both dogged by a succession of off-field atrocities.

The last high profile athlete to test positive for Clenbuterol was American swimmer Jessica Hardy, who missed last year's Beijing Olympics as a result of a positive test at the US Olympic trials.

Earlier this month Hardy had her two-year suspension for a failed drug test reduced to one year, allowing her to return to competition this year.

In handing down its provisional ban, the NRL said it could not provide information on the length of any possible suspension.

"The NRL is not in a position to give any further detail in relation to the test, which is still at the A Sample stage," the NRL said in a statement.

"The player has the right to waive the B sample and move to an expedited hearing or wait until the B Sample is confirmed, at which point the NRL will again offer the opportunity to expedite the process."

A two-year ban would almost spell the end of the 26-year-old Maitua's NRL career.

He was handed a lifeline by the Sharks at the start of 2009 after being cut by the Bulldogs in December last year for a string of off-field indiscretions - a matter currently before the courts with Maitua claiming wrongful dismissal.

The Bulldogs claimed Maitua simply ran out of chances after repeated instances of missed training sessions and reports of long drinking sessions.

The ban comes at the worst possible time for the Sharks who have lurched from one crisis to the next in 2009 with huge question marks over the club's future due to a crippling $9 million debt.

Two sponsors withdrew almost $150,000 in support last week in wake of the club's involvement in the 2002 Christchurch group sex scandal, an incident which placed former Shark Matthew Johns' media career at risk.

In January this year the club sacked Greg Bird in relation to his assault charge involving girlfriend Katie Milligan last year, while halfback Brett Seymour was suspended for two games and fined $20,000 following a long drinking session.

Zappia claimed he was at breaking point following the latest in a long line of scandals.

"Personally, I don't think I can take any more," Zappia said.

"Obviously, it's disappointing for Reni... the club, the supporters, the players, corporate sponsors and all those people who are at home who support the Sharks.

When asked how he was feeling, he said: "empty, frustration, anger".

"I feel for my wonderful family at home who continues to see me under these conditions."

A result on Maitua's B sample is expected in seven days.

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