Joel Smith’s career hangs in the balance after the investigation into the Melbourne player’s positive cocaine test took another twist.
News Corp first reported that Sports Integrity Australia (SIA) found Smith guilty of taking a performance-enhancing drug in a pre-Christmas hearing.
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SIA haven’t yet issued a suspension, but it carries a minimum two-year ban in a potential career-ending blow.
Smith, who turns 28 next month, is expected to fight the findings and argue that the amount of cocaine detected in his system is not enough to be performance enhancing.
However, he will remain suspended until any hearing occurs.
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Smith has been provisionally suspended since October last year for returning the positive result following an in-competition doping test after the club’s Round 23 match.
Under the AFL’s anti-doping code, which follows World Anti-Doping Authority protocols, Smith could have escaped with just a three-month ban if he could prove the drug was used as a ‘substance of abuse’ and not on matchday for performance reasons.
Smith’s career hangs in the balance. Credit: JAMES ROSS/AAPIMAGE
The AFL confirmed the investigation remains ongoing and Smith isn’t permitted to return to the club.
“The AFL advises that the matter involving Joel Smith of the Melbourne Football Club being investigated by Sport Integrity Australia (SIA) under the Australian Football Anti-Doping Code is ongoing,” AFL spokesperson Jay Allen said.
“Joel remains provisionally suspended and as such he is not permitted to participate in Melbourne’s pre-season training when it recommences in the coming days.
“Due to the ongoing nature of the anti-doping process the AFL will not comment further at this time.”
Smith, who is the son of high-flying Demons great Shaun Smith, arrived at the club as a Category B rookie in 2016 after coming from basketball.
He made his debut in 2017 and has since played 42 games.
Used in defence and attack, last year was his most consistent, featuring in the last 14 games of the season and kicking 11 goals, including three in the semi-final loss to Carlton.
He and partner Elise Carroll welcomed their first child into the world last month with Tilly Noel Smith born on September 6.
The couple also got engaged in December.