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Hardaker tests positive for cocaine & will miss World Cup

From BBC - October 9, 2017

Castleford Tigers full-back Zak Hardaker has been provisionally suspended after testing positive for cocaine and will not be included in England's squad for the World Cup.

The 25-year-old was omitted from the Tigers' squad before Castleford's Grand Final loss to Leeds Rhinos on Saturday.

Hardaker's failed test came after a Super 8s game against Leeds, his former club, on 8 September.

He could be suspended for two years as a result of his positive test.

In a statement on the club website, Hardaker said: "I would like to apologise to my team-mates, the staff and all fans for my enormous error of judgment.

"I was given an opportunity by this great club and in what has been one of the most important weeks in its history, I have let everyone at the club down. For that, I truly apologise.

"Finally, I would like to make it clear that in no way did I, nor would I, ever take a substance with the intention of enhancing my performance."

Hardaker was one of three nominations for Super League's Man of Steel award, having scored 13 tries in 30 games as Tigers won the League Leaders' Shield for the first time, and was expected to be named in the England squad for the upcoming World Cup in Australia.

"The Rugby Football League can confirm that Zak Hardaker is provisionally suspended from all competition after it received notification from UK Anti-Doping that he had tested positive for a banned substance," read a statement from the RFL.

"He will therefore not be considered for the England Rugby League World Cup squad due to be announced on Monday at 12:00 BST."

The RFL and Castleford said they will be making no further comment until the outcome of the case has been determined.

Hardaker absence 'a big disruption'

News of Hardaker's indiscretion was announced on Thursday, when Castleford said he had been left out of their Grand Final squad because of a "breach of club rules".

Speaking after Saturday's 24-6 defeat by Leeds at Old Trafford, head coach Daryl Powell said: "I still thought we had a team out there that could have won the game if we'd played anywhere near our potential.

"But if you take a player like him out of any team, it's going to be a disruption.

"You take your full-back out two days before the game, and you have one session of preparation - it's clearly not going to help.

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