Willie Rioli’s AFL dream remains alive after the West Coast star escaped with a two-year backdated suspension for substituting a urine sample.
Rioli, who has been provisionally suspended since September 12, 2019, was facing a ban of up to four years for the urine substitution charge.
But the AFL anti-doping tribunal handed down their decision of a two-year ban on Thursday afternoon.
The ban will be backdated to August 20, 2019 – the day of the infraction.
It means Rioli can return on August 20 this year.
He will be allowed to train from June 20.
Rioli played a key role in the club’s 2018 premiership campaign and he took his game to an even higher level in 2019.
But he was provisionally suspended on the eve of the club’s semi-final loss to Geelong in 2019 for a urine substitution charge relating to an out-of-competition drug test on August 20 that year.
It was later revealed Rioli had also tested positive for a metabolite of cannabis after the Eagles’ elimination-final win over Essendon on September 5, 2019.
The star goalsneak had to wait 15 months to get his chance to state his case at the AFL anti-doping tribunal and it’s taken another three months for a finding to be handed down.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan was among the critics to express their frustration at how long the process was taking.