PLAYERS who test positive for a 'specified' substance prohibited under the AFL Anti-Doping Code can continue playing until their case is heard by an AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal.
That means although Fremantle tagger Ryan Crowley failed a test taken after playing Greater Western Sydney on July 13 last season, he was entitled to choose to continue playing until the results of his 'B' sample were known and he then decided to accept a provisional suspension.
The results of his 'B' sample were not known – and the infraction notice was not issued – until after Fremantle had tumbled out of the finals on September 13 at the hands of Port Adelaide.
The AFL issued a statement to clarify the process that took place after Crowley was tested after the game against the Giants on July 13.
The 'A' sample was tested on August 11, several weeks after the game and Crowley was notified that he had returned a positive result a week later on August 18, the day after Fremantle defeated Hawthorn in round 21.
Under clause 12 (e) of the Anti-Doping Code, a player is allowed to continue playing if the finding relates to a 'specified' substance.
A specified substance, according to the ASADA website, is 'a substance more susceptible to inadvertent use'.
Crowley chose to continue playing until the results of the 'B' sample were known.
The 'B' sample was tested on September 11, just two days before Crowley restricted Port Adelaide captain Travis Boak to two touches in the first half in the semi-final against Port Adelaide.
However, Fremantle lost that game and the club was bundled out of the finals.
The results of that test were known five days after that game, on September 18, when Crowley received a show-cause notice along with a notification that the B-sample was positive.
Crowley accepted a provisional suspension on September 25, meaning that if he was found eventually found guilty of an anti-doping violation, any subsequent penalty may take into account the time served from that date.
AFL counsel Andrew Dillon then served Crowley with an infraction notice a week later on October 1.
Crowley received a letter regarding the outcome of the Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel on October 16 and is now waiting on a date for his anti-doping tribunal hearing to be set.
Fremantle said at a media conference on Monday that Crowley, 31, considered retirement but decided to play on.
Crowley has his own legal representation but the club is supporting the 2012 club champion who has played 188 games for the Dockers.
ASADA confirmed the positive tests in a statement and that Crowley had accepted a provisional suspension pending the outcome of the matter.
The next step is for this matter to proceed to a hearing of the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal.
AFL Players' Association CEO Paul Marsh said the AFLPA was aware Crowley had been issued a show cause notice and pledged to stand by him.
"The PA will help and support Ryan in any way we possibly can throughout this process," Marsh said.