Australia

NRL to take over Gold Coast Titans after drug row

Greg Bird. File photo Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Greg Bird and four other rugby league players have been suspended from the Gold Coast Titans

The Gold Coast Titans are to be taken over by the Australia's National Rugby League, amid a drug scandal.

Five of the club's players have been suspended over either possessing or supplying cocaine.

On Friday, Greg Bird, Dave Taylor and Kalifa Faifai Loa were served court notices, after a Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) investigation.

Teammates Beau Falloon and Jamie Dowling will also face court.

On Tuesday, NRL chief executive Dave Smith said that the takeover would give the club a "fresh start".

In a statement, Mr Smith added that the club as been placed in voluntary administration by the directors after conceding that the club could no longer continue to meet its financial obligations, including staff and player salaries.

He said: "This is an important region for rugby league and the Titans remain part of our long-term plans for the game."

The Titans will hand over their licence to the NRL on Tuesday but that the club's current board would be retained, he said.

Cocaine supply

All five players embroiled in the scandal are expected to appear in court in March.

The CCC said they were "identified contacting the [drug] syndicate and arranging for the supply of cocaine to friends and colleagues between August 2014 and December 2014".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Karmichael Hunt is now due to appear in court on 5 March

Titans chief executive Graham Annesley said he had decided to suspend the athletes "from playing and training duties".

He added that "to the best of my knowledge" no other club player would be served court notices.

On Tuesday, the CCC said that any further arrests would "occur by the end of this week or early next week," according to ABC news.

Two days ago, rugby union star Karmichael Hunt, who plays for the Queensland Reds, was also charged with supplying cocaine, as part of the same investigation by the CCC.

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