Sandor Earl during his playing days with the Canberra Raiders. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Sandor Earl has had a charge of trafficking a banned substance dropped, a "huge" development that proves the NRL was wrong to publicly reveal allegations about him last year, his lawyer says.
The former Canberra winger stood down immediately from the NRL last August and faced a possible four-year to lifetime ban after telling Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigators about his use of the peptide CJC-1295 while at Penrith in 2011.
However, the ABC's 7.30 program on Monday night reported that Earl, 24, had been notified last week that the trafficking component of charges against him had been removed by the anti-doping watchdog, who have finally included him on their Register of Findings. Entry on that list is the precursor to an athlete being issued an infraction notice.
"We got a letter on the 26th of May in which ASADA has told us the matters which are going to be put in the Register of Findings and it has omitted the allegation that Sandor trafficked CJC in August or September of 2011," Earl's lawyer Tim Unsworth told the ABC. "How big a development is that? It's huge. It's huge."
A trafficking offence carries a minimum four-year suspension while use of a banned substance carries a mandatory two-year sanction. Earl, though, believes he is eligible for a 75 per cent reduction for providing "substantial assistance" to ASADA, which could now cut a ban to six months. Yet since becoming the first and only player sidelined during ASADA's investigation across two codes he has already been out of the game for more than nine months.
Earl said he had last August provided ASADA with information about his association with Stephen Dank, the sports scientist at the centre of scandals at Cronulla and Essendon. Dank reportedly referred the winger, recovering from a double shoulder reconstruction, to Dr Ijaz Khan in Cabramatta in August 2011 for injections over two months.
Two days after Earl's ASADA interview, NRL chief executive Dave Smith announced the winger had admitted to taking and trafficking peptides, the latter charge believed to relate to the player transporting the substance from Dank's office to the Cabramatta clinic. Earl remains upset that allegations against him were made public.
"Sandor says that the admissions that he made on the 27th of August by law must have been kept confidential until ASADA's process had been completed. That didn't happen," Unsworth said. "On the 29th of August, the NRL chose to publish allegations that had been made against Sandor in the investigation, it now seems that those allegations have been abandoned by ASADA, but it's too late. They've been put in the public domain by the NRL and that's what's wrong about what the NRL did."
A challenge against Earl's ban could be filed with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on Tuesday.