Castleford star suspended after testing positive for banned substance
Castleford Tigers' Zak Hardaker has been provisionally suspended after testing positive for cocaine, according to the BBC.
The full-back played no part in Saturday's Grand Final defeat to the Leeds Rhinos and he will not be included in England's World Cup squad.
A statement from the Rugby Football League has confirmed that the positive result stemmed from a test conducted after a September clash against Leeds and Hardaker, one of three nominees for this year's Man of Steel, could face a two-year ban pending the results of an investigation.
Hardaker looked like a banker to be included in England's World Cup squad after scoring 13 tries in 30 games, helping the Tigers on the way to their first ever League Leaders' Shield in August but he will not be in contention for a place following his failed test.
"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 following a Super 8s game between Castleford Tigers and Leeds Rhinos on September 8, 2017," a Rugby Football League spokesperson said of the matter.
"He will therefore not be considered for the England Rugby League World Cup squad due to be announced today (Monday) at 12pm.
"The Rugby Football League will be making no further comment until the outcome of the case has been determined."
The 25-year-old has taken full responsibility for the failed test and has issued a full apology.
"I would like to apologise to my team-mates, the staff and all fans for my enormous error of judgment," Hardaker said in a statement on the club's website.
"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."