Bronco suspended after positive drug test
THE NRL's gala grand-final week has descended into a horror show following revelations Brisbane Broncos hooker James Segeyaro has tested positive to a performance-enhancing drug.
In a crushing blow for rugby league in their biggest week of the year, the NRL and Broncos were left reeling at Segeyaro recording a positive result to the banned substance that has also sidelined Australian swimmer Shayna Jack.
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The NRL released a statement confirming Segeyaro had been provisionally suspended after being notified of the breach by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority.
"Mr Segeyaro is prohibited from participating in any WADA-compliant sport, including rugby league, while the provisional suspension is in place," an NRL statement read.
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Should Segeyaro's B sample return a positive test later this month, the 28-year-old Broncos hooker could face a ban of up to four years under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code.
Broncos chief executive Paul White was contacted by the NRL to inform him that Segeyaro had tested positive for LGD-4033, known as Ligandrol. It is the very substance at the centre of Jack's failed doping test before July's swimming world championships.
Sources have told The Courier-Mail Segeyaro was devastated and shocked when informed of his positive A sample last night. The Broncos rake is currently holidaying overseas in Europe with Brisbane bosses left scrambling to contact him upon notification from the NRL and ASADA.
The Segeyaro scandal continues a season from hell for the Broncos, who just three weeks ago suffered a humiliating 58-0 finals loss to Parramatta - the worst defeat in their 31-year history.
Roosters and Canberra players had been ramping-up preparations for Sunday night's grand final at ANZ Stadium but the Segeyaro doping bombshell has cast a pall over the code just 48 hours away from the NRL decider.
A 154-game veteran who has previously played at the Cowboys, Penrith and Cronulla, Segeyaro was drug tested on September 3 after he played for the Broncos in their 17-16 defeat of Parramatta in round 24 at Suncorp Stadium.
The Papua New Guinea international was subjected to a random drugs test by ASADA officials at a Tuesday training session at Red Hill, four days after the Eels match.
Segeyaro will have the opportunity to contest the positive test by requesting analysis of a B sample, but in any event he has played his last game for the Broncos - and now his entire NRL career could be over.
The Broncos already had salary-cap pressures that was to force the hooker out of Red Hill regardless of whether Segeyaro tested positive to a banned substance.
The only way Segeyaro could have continued his brief, 13-game career at the Broncos was if he accepted a basic contract offer usually reserved for a rookie player.
But this latest doping drama has cost Segeyaro any hope of a contract renewal at the Broncos.
It has been a whirlwind five months in Brisbane for the former North Queensland star.
Segeyaro only joined the Broncos in May on a short-term, $40,000 deal. Within days of his arrival at the club, Segeyaro scored the match-winning try to inspire a 15-10 boilover of premiers the Roosters in his Broncos debut in round 10 at Suncorp Stadium.
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But just a fortnight later, Segeyaro was in hot water after being charged with a low-range drink driving offence while heading to his local cafe for a morning coffee.
The Broncos tabled an offer for Segeyaro two months ago, but the financial terms are not palatable for a nine-year NRL veteran who has also played international football for Papua New Guinea.
Brisbane are already fighting to retain key off-contract duo Corey Oates and Alex Glenn under the salary cap and that leaves precious little funds to pay Segeyaro in excess of $100,000 a season.
The Broncos released a statement this evening saying Segeyaro had been stood down immediately.
"Under due process through the Anti-Doping policy, the player now has the opportunity to have his B sample tested," the statement said.
"The club is endeavouring to contact our player, who is currently overseas on holiday.
"As this matter is currently an active investigation, the Broncos are unable to make any further comment."
WHAT IS LIGANDROL?
The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority last year warned an increasing number of athletes had been linked to the drug Ligandrol or LGD-4033.
While it was originally developed for the treatment of muscle wasting conditions such as osteoporosis, muscular dystrophy and cancer, it has increasingly been used by athletes and body builders.
It is claimed to be a substance that induces muscle and bone growth without the side effects associated with steroid use.
But in a memo issued by ASADA in November last year, it warned information on the safety of LGD-4033 was scarce due to a lack of medium and long-term clinical trials and the medium and long-term health impacts are unknown.
The drug was most recently linked to Australian swimmer Shayna Jack who is facing a four-year ban after allegedly testing positive for Ligandrol in June.
"It should be noted that a number of SARMs (Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators) have associated health-risks, particularly for the heart and liver," ASADA wrote in its memo.
"The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) classifies LGD-4033, like all SARMs, as a Schedule 4 drug - a prescription-only medicine or animal remedy. The possession of LGD-4033 without appropriate authority is illegal.
"Athletes are warned that not only is LGD-4033 prohibited in sport but it is not yet cleared through clinical trials."