The Cronulla Sharks have been rocked by the news that suspended young gun Bronson Xerri has returned a positive B-sample for anabolic steroids.
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His initial test came back positive for steroids, with the results of his B-sample confirmed on Tuesday.
In a statement, the NRL said Xerri had been issued with a Notice of Alleged Anti-Doping Rule Violations under the league’s Anti-Doping Policy.
“The Notice alleges that Mr Xerri breached the policy through the presence, use and possession of Anabolic Androgenic Steroids prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the NRL’s Anti-Doping Policy,” the statement read.
“Mr Xerri was provisionally suspended from participating in any WADA compliant sport, including rugby league, on 26 May 2020 following the return of a positive sample for Testosterone, Androsterone, Etiocholanolone and 5b-androstane-3a, 17b-diol.
“Under the NRL Anti-Doping Policy, Mr Xerri now has the opportunity to respond to the matters raised in the Notice of Alleged Anti-Doping Rule Violations.”
Pending the outcome of the matter, Xerri could face up to a four year ban from sport.
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Xerri was provisionally suspended just days before the NRL season resumed after the coronavirus-enforced hiatus.
The Sharks centre said at the time that he was ‘shattered’ to be blocked from playing.
“I'm devastated but I'm bound by the system so there is not much more I can say at this stage,” Xerri said in May.
“There is a process in place that I am required to follow. I'm shattered I'm not playing with the boys.”
The 19-year-old is the second Australia athlete to run into anti-doping trouble in the last 12 months, with swimmer Shayna Jack being handed a four-year ban after testing positive for a banned muscle growth agent at the 2019 World Championships in South Korea.
Jack is awaiting an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but reached out to Xerri earlier in the year to offer her support.
A member of Australia's world record-breaking 4x100m freestyle relay team, Jack has claimed the banned substance could have got into her system by contamination.
Jack’s lawyer Tim Fuller told the Sydney Morning Herald that the 21-year-old had reached out to Xerri.
“She told me she’d been in contact with Bronson and she said he’s very, very stressed about what’s happening,” Fuller said.
“She just understands what they’re going through. She was just letting him know possibly what is going to happen and some of the processes that might not have been explained to him … and just supporting him. In her words, he’s pretty down.”