Sandor Earl's appearance before the NRL's anti-doping tribunal will be delayed after the former Canberra and Penrith winger won an injunction against the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority.
The 24-year-old, based in Thailand since his exile from the code in August last year, was invited to front the NRL panel next week and faced a possible four-year ban over more than 30 doping charges.
Earl, however, was eager to have his challenge against ASADA heard at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Sydney before he appears at the NRL hearing, which was scheduled after his name was added to the register of findings last month.
The injunction delivered in the AAT, essentially stopping his addition to the register until his full case is heard, is likely to ensure next week's NRL tribunal sitting is postponed until August. It is a small victory for the sidelined three-quarter, who tweeted on Thursday night: "No matter how frustrating or unfair the only person that gives me a fighting chance my legend lawyer Tim Unsworth I appreciate everything!!"
Earl's legal team is contesting his inclusion on the register of findings, the precursor to an athlete being handed an infraction notice and a ban by a sport.
It is believed part of their case includes challenging the process by which ASADA investigators came into possession of text messages on Earl's phone that are understood to feature in the anti-doping watchdog's case against the footballer.
Earl is facing more than 30 anti-doping violations resulting from his time at Penrith in 2011 and the Raiders in 2012 and 2013, ranging from use, attempted use, possession, trafficking to attempted trafficking of prohibited substances.
They include the alleged use of peptide CJC-1295 while he was recovering from double shoulder surgery at the Panthers and the alleged trafficking of growth hormone Somatropin, selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMS), the anabolic agent Clenbuterol and the testosterone blend Sustanon.
An NRL spokesman said they were monitoring Earl’s proceedings in the AAT.
“Sandor Earl’s legal team is contesting his inclusion on the register of findings, part of ASADA’s statutory process,” the spokesman said.
“We understand that Sandor Earl has been granted an expedited hearing before the AAT, which is likely to occur in August.
“The NRL’s Anti-Doping Tribunal is ready to proceed with Mr Earl’s hearing and it will be scheduled at an appropriate time. But our position remains clear … there is no place for drugs in our sport and the NRL will continue to act in the best interests of the integrity of the NRL competition.”
Former Cronulla trainer Trent Elkin, meanwhile, is due to have his appeal against a two-year ban heard by the NRL tribunal next Friday.