Sandor Earl will ask for his fight against doping charges to be expedited by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in a desperate bid to save his career.
Earl's legal team filed an appeal with the independent review body in Sydney on Wednesday, a day after having multiple allegations of trafficking of banned substances levelled against him and detailed publicly by the NRL.
The former Canberra winger faces the prospect of a minimum four-year suspension when he fronts a hearing of the NRL’s Anti-Doping Tribunal, chaired by former High Court judge Ian Callinan QC, which is likely to be convened within the next month.
Earl, 24, is challenging whether his name should have been entered into the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority's register of findings, which occurred last week. He had his legal representatives file a claim with the AAT on Wednesday. They will request the matter be fast-tracked so it does not drag on for months or years while Earl continues to be sidelined. He is currently based in Thailand where he runs a nutrition shop.
"We're going to lodge it this afternoon and hope to get the AAT to deal with it on an expedited basis," Earl's solicitor, Tim Unsworth, said on Wednesday. "If we don't, Sandor could be well and truly retired from professional sport before the matter gets resolved."
While they are expected to claim text messages that implicate the player were obtained illegally, they are also adamant the NRL breached sections 4.19 and 4.20 of the National Anti-Doping scheme, which deals with confidentiality, by announcing in August that Earl had admitted using and trafficking the peptide CJC-1295 before he was included on ASADA's register of findings.
An agreement between the NRL and ASADA, which has been sighted by Fairfax Media and which was signed by NRL chief executive Dave Smith on April 2, 2013, and a day later by then ASADA chief Aurora Andruska, states: "Both parties also acknowledge that it is of paramount importance that information be treated in confidence so as to ensure the preservation of athlete's and athlete support person's rights and minimilise any unfair prejudice to these individuals." It goes on to say: "The National Rugby League undertakes that it will keep the Personal Information confidential until the terms of the [Leagues Anti-Doping Policy] allow disclosure."
The NRL claims that its public statements are vindicated by the terms of its anti-doping policy. The governing body argues it acted within its rights by outing Earl in August as the first player sprung in the ASADA inquiry into two codes, and was duty bound to stand him down immediately as a result of his admissions to investigators two days earlier. It also defends its response on Tuesday to a television report that Earl no longer faced trafficking charges by outlining four other prohibited substances he is alleged to have trafficked when at Canberra in 2012 and 2013.
The NRL points to the agreement with ASADA and its own anti-doping policy, or ADP, which says: "Once a provisional suspension notice or a notice of alleged ADRV [anti-doping rule violation] or other breach has been issued, we may publish the name of the person and the details appearing in the notice."
The policy adds: "Once the name of a person appears on the ASADA register, nothing in the ADP requires the name of the person or the details appearing on the register to be kept confidential."
Unsworth, however, argues the NRL wrongfully issued an infraction notice last year by flouting a requirement in the National Anti-Doping (NAD) scheme that sporting bodies provide ASADA with a "written undertaking that the non-public information will be treated in confidence" in relation to potential entries on the register of findings.
"It makes a complete nonsense of the whole NAD scheme," he said. "It just sidelines ASADA from the whole process."
An NRL spokesman said: "We're totally comfortable with the process and the way the information has been released."
The story Sandor Earl wants appeal fast-tracked in desperate bid to save his career first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.