(CNN) -- An Australian rugby league star has been sacked from his club in disgrace after a photograph circulated on social media that appeared to show him urinating into his own mouth.
The vulgar photograph of Todd Carney, taken at a nightclub urinal, created a storm on social media, prompting the Cronulla Sharks club to release a statement Sunday announcing it had ended the player's contract with immediate effect.
"When Todd was first signed to the Sharks he was made well aware of his responsibilities both on and off the field, to himself, the club and to the game in general," read the statement, issued by the club's CEO Steve Noyce.
"The photograph that appeared last night on social media does not meet the values and standards the club is looking to uphold and take into the future."
It was the third time that Carney -- who in 2010 received the prestigious Dally M Medal as the Australian National Rugby League's player of the year -- had left a club following off-field disciplinary issues. The picture surfaced just a day after the 28-year-old had led his side to a hard-fought comeback win against the Brisbane Broncos.
Carney's agent, David Riolo, appeared on Sydney radio station 2UE Monday saying his client had been dealt with unduly harshly by the club.
He said Carney had not actually drunk his urine and that the picture, while regrettable, had never been meant to go public.
"Todd's paid a very, very heavy price for a photo that he didn't want out there or upload himself. It was supposed to be kept between mates," Riolo told the station.
Carney had been contracted to Cronulla until the end of the 2018 season.
The photo had been leaked after the associate who took the picture claimed to have lost his phone, Riolo said.
Carney 's long list of previous indiscretions, mostly alcohol-related, features incriminating pictures of his genitals and alleged public urination.
In 2008, he was accused of urinating on a patron in a Canberra nightclub, and the following year he made headlines after a woman found full-frontal nude pics of the player on a mobile phone she was loaned.
While Carney has been widely criticized over his latest scandal, some present and former players have spoken out in support.
Joel Thompson, a player for the Dragons, tweeted that he felt for Carney. "It was his idea of a harmless joke between him & the so called mate in private. Toddy never hurt anyone," he wrote. "I think it's a bad joke horribly gone wrong."