REPRESENTATIVE stars Greg Bird and Dave Taylor, and three of their Gold Coast Titans teammates, could be hit with a minimum four-year, worldwide ban from sport if they are found guilty of cocaine supply charges.
The Gold Coast Titans were plunged deeper into crisis on Sunday following the NRL club's return from a pre-season trial match in Cairns with Bird, Taylor, and outside back Kalifa Faifai Loa each served with notices to appear in court from Queensland's Crime and Corruption Commission (QCCC).
The trio, together with former Titans squad member Joe Vickery, all face charges of supplying cocaine as part of the same QCCC investigation that on Friday saw Titans' hooker Beau Falloon, outside back Jamie Dowling, and Queensland Reds backline utility Karmichael Hunt also charged.
The arrests come after former Australian and Queensland representative Jason Smith and ex-North Sydney and Wests Tigers fullback Matt Seers were charged with supplying drugs in separate arrests in January.
Reds player Karmichael Hunt charged with supplying cocaine
All five Titans players have been stood down indefinitely by the club and issued with notices to appear in court in relation to drug offences.
They could face a minimum four-year, worldwide ban from sport if they are found guilty of cocaine supply charges.
A guilty ruling could then see them face punishments from the anti-doping body WADA which could potentially end their playing careers in any major sporting code around the world.
Sydney's Daily Telegraph reports that under section 2.7 of the WADA code, supplying prohibited substances to a third party is considered "trafficking" and carries with it a minimum four-year ban from all sport.
Meanwhile, the Titans have launched their own investigation that could see players being sacked immediately regardless of the legal result.
Bird is the player most likely to have his contract torn up, as he is already on his last warning at the Titans after he was stripped of his captaincy in December, for urinating in public during his wedding celebrations in Byron Bay.
Taylor, Bird, Faifai Loa and Vickery are all expected to face Southport Magistrates Court on March 9 while Dowling, Falloon, Hunt and an unnamed 22-year-old woman are due in court on March 5.
It is at the discretion of the NRL and the Titans whether the five players are reinstated after they appear in court in two weeks or are given a provisional ban until the court matter is completed.
The story broke on Friday when Hunt was the first charged. Hunt was the previous day named to start for the Reds in their 18-6 win over the Force on Saturday. He has been stood down by the Super Rugby franchise.
The Titans begin the NRL campaign at home with a round one clash against Wests Tigers at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday, March 7.
Queensland Drugs Scandal - The Big Players:
Greg Bird - Charged with two counts of supplying cocaine.
Dave Taylor - Charged with one count of possession and one count of supplying cocaine.
Beau Falloon - Charged with four counts of supplying cocaine.
Jamie Dowling - Charged with two counts of supplying cocaine.
Kalifa Faifai Loa - Charged with one count of supplying cocaine.
Joe Vickery - Former Titans squad member was also charged, with seven counts of supplying cocaine.
Karmichael Hunt - Queensland Reds player charged with four counts of supplying cocaine.
Jason Smith - Former league international charged with trafficking 280g of cocaine between June and December 2014.
Matt Seers - Former NRL player charged with 15 counts of supplying a dangerous drug and one count of trafficking a dangerous drug.
Four more Titans players charged over cocaine scandal
FOUR more Gold Coast Titans players, including State of Origin stars Greg Bird and Dave Taylor, have been charged over the cocaine scandal that has rocked the NRL club.
News Limited reported last night Taylor, Bird, winger Kalifa Faifai Loa and former Titans player Joe Vickery have been issued with notices to appear in court.
The Crime and Corruption Commission has been investigating drug scandals in sporting clubs but could not officially confirm late yesterday if these men had been charged.
They said investigations were ongoing.
Six past and present Titans players have now been charged - including Beau Falloon and Jamie Dowling, who were charged on Friday alongside Queensland Reds player Karmichael Hunt.
All have been stood down with immediate affect, but reportedly have indicated they will defend the charges.
Falloon, Dowling, Hunt and an unnamed 22-year-old woman are all to face Southport Magistrates Court on March 5.
It is understood Taylor, Bird, Faifai Loa and Vickery will face court on March 9.
Titans coach Neil Henry said revelations of a drug scandal within the club were merely allegations at the moment.
"At the moment there's some serious allegations ... there's still a lot of speculation and innuendo about further action but we're not aware of it at the moment," Henry said at the airport yesterday after the team arrived back from a trial match in Cairns.
"It's something that we'll deal with. We don't take it lightly. There's a lot of rumours out there ... we'll wait and see. It's speculation at the moment." - APN NEWSDESK