Hull City midfielder Jake Livermore has tested positive for cocaine and will not play for the club again this season.
Livermore, who has made one appearance for England, failed a post-match drug test after Hull's 2-0 win over Crystal Palace last month and, although he played in the 1-0 defeat by Burnley last weekend, the club had no choice but to ban him once they were informed of the test result.
Livermore, who cost £8m last summer when he signed from Tottenham Hotspur, is likely to be banned for at least six months if the test results are confirmed, but he could also be sacked by Hull for gross misconduct.
That would appear unlikely as that would allow him to join another club as a free agent once he has served his ban, but Hull may decide to put him on the transfer list as his behaviour has appalled both manager Steve Bruce and owner Assem Allam.
There is also a chance Hull will take legal action.
Livermore is the highest-profile player to fail a drug test for cocaine since Chelsea striker Adrian Mutu, who was ordered to pay more than £14m in compensation to the London club.
Mutu was banned by the FA and sacked by Chelsea after failing a drug test in 2004.
No decision has been made on Livermore's long-term future as everyone is trying to focus on an increasingly perilous relegation battle. It is a massive setback for Bruce.
Livermore, who came through Tottenham's academy, was superb on loan for Hull last season as they managed to stay in the top flight and also reach the FA Cup final. But his form has dipped badly, along with that of the rest of the Hull side, in this campaign.
Hull need to win at least one of their remaining two games, against Tottenham today and at home to Manchester United, to have a realistic chance of staying up.
They are two points adrift of Newcastle and Sunderland and three behind 15th-placed Leicester.
Bruce was impressed with the midfielder when he spent the 2013-14 season on loan at the KC Stadium, praising his character as well as his ability.
He became Hull's record signing last summer, although that figure has been beaten since, as the idea was to shape a new-look midfield around the 25-year-old.
Livermore, whose solitary England cap came as a second-half substitute against Italy in 2012, left Spurs as he was frustrated by the lack of first-team opportunities, making just 58 appearances in six years.
He has also had loan spells at MK Dons, Derby, Peterborough, Ipswich and Leeds. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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