Collingwood defender Sam Murray is set to learn his fate soon, with his anti-doping hearing every possibility of occurring before finals.
Murray’s career has been in limbo for the best part of 12 months, with the 21-year-old testing positive to cocaine in August last year after a match-day test.
The former Swan has been under provisional suspension, and will continue to be until the anti-doping hearing plays out.
It comes after conjecture and outcry over the length of the process, and why it continues to pend.
But Herald Sun journalist Jon Ralph believes the hearing could come to a head soon.
“I think everyone is saying, how can Australian swimmer Shayna Jack be told that she’ll get a four-year penalty this week when Murray’s still waiting more than a year on?” he said on Fox Footy on Tuesday night.
“Here’s the state of play. He’s accepted a provisional ban from ASADA right when he took the cocaine and the anti-doping hearing from the AFL is coming up.
“The league had told me it would be late June, early July, so clearly that’s been pushed back a bit. I think it will still happen before finals.”
Ralph believes that Murray could even be training with Collingwood again by as early as next year, depending on the outcome.
“As long as it’s done by October, he’s not really in any hurry. He’s being paid, he can train with the Wangaratta Rovers, he’s still on the Collingwood rookie list which he acquiesced to,” Ralph said.
“The issue will be whether his lawyer, Ben Ihle – who was the same guy who represented Josh Thomas and Lachie Keeffe – can get it back to two years.
“If you halve the penalty or get some dispensation, you make the case like Thomas and Keeffe before, you’re eligible by Round 21 next year. You can probably train with the club from March, ‘please let me be on the rookie list’.
“Then they’ve got to make a decision about whether the cocaine use was one-off, or whether he’s even a guy they need on their list, or whether he was a troublesome character anyway.
“It has certainly dragged on, and with the AFL’s wheels of justice, they’re certainly pretty squeaky, aren’t they?”
However, former ASADA boss Richard Ings painted more of a bleak picture for Murray, stating it would be difficult to reduce the mandatory four-year suspension length for a positive match-day test.
“Generally speaking its exceedingly rare for an athlete subject to a matchday positive for cocaine to get a reduced sanction,“ Ings told the Herald Sun in May.
Murray played 13 games for the Pies in 2018.