An anti-doping provision could see Melbourne player Joel Smith's suspension for testing positive for cocaine in-season reduced to one month, with the Demons utility needing to prove he didn't take the illicit substance to better his performance and would be required to undergo a drug treatment program.
Smith tested positive for cocaine in August following Melbourne's Round 23 encounter with Hawthorn, with the 27-year-old made aware of the positive result last month.
The Demons swingman has since been placed under a provisional suspension as Sport Integrity Australia further progress with the investigation.
With Smith made aware of the positive sample on October 10, he has currently served three weeks of his suspension, while Melbourne have noted he has been removed from their football program for the time being and that the club could hand down further punishment once the results of the investigation are reached.
Smith is facing a three-month suspension for the positive sample of cocaine and its metabolite benzoylecgonine, however under a special provision that suspension could be reduced to the one month.
According to The Age, Smith would be required to first prove he did not take the substance for the benefit of his performance - which would see the mandatory four-year ban reduced to a three-month suspension.
If Smith is able to complete a drug treatment program, approved by the AFL, he could have his suspension reduced, while the "substance of abuse" provision can be met if Smith is able to prove he ingested the drug before 11:59pm on the day prior to his side's Round 23 meeting with Hawthorn and that the concentration of the substance is below 10 nanograms per millilitre of urine.
The Age has also reported that Smith has waved his right to have a B sample analysed.
This week Melbourne released a statement noting that while they are not privy to, nor can they provide, updated information on the investigation, the club will decide whether further cause of action is required once the results of the investigation are known.
"Joel is aware that once Club leaders receive the results of the investigation, they will then determine if any further action is appropriate based on cultural standards and expectations," a letter from CEO Gary Pert read.
Smith, who played 14 games under senior coach Simon Goodwin this year, was due to report to pre-season training next month prior to his positive test.