The AFL career of Ryan Crowley is almost certainly over after the Fremantle tagger was suspended for one year for breaching the league’s anti-doping code.
The start of the suspension for testing positive to a banned substance ban was backdated to September 25, 2014, meaning Crowley is effectively ruled out of the 2015 campaign, although the last two weeks of the finals series fall outside the ban.
Crowley, 31, had been provisionally banned for the first 10 weeks of the 2015 season pending the finding by the AFL anti-doping tribunal.
AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon said the tribunal had delivered its verdict in a timely manner, after hearing the case last month, and the AFL would not take the matter any further.
The three-person tribunal, comprising of chairman David Jones, former judge John Nixon and Dr Susan White, could have suspended Crowley for as much as two years.
Crowley claimed he ingested the banned substance through a painkiller he had sourced from outside the club.
The suspension almost certainly brings an end to Crowley’s controversial 188-match career.
He won the Dockers’ best and fairest award in 2012 but was better known throughout his decade-long AFL career for a no-holds-barred approach to tagging the opposition’s best midfielder.
In Crowley’s absence, the Dockers have made a flying start to the 2015 season, with their first-choice midfield group of Nat Fyfe, David Mundy and Michael Barlow regularly dominating their opponents.
Despite dropping their first match of the year to Richmond in round 10, they sit two games clear atop the AFL ladder.
Crowley said he deeply regretted his actions.
“I am deeply remorseful and disappointed with the mistake that I made last year,” he told the Fremantle website.
“I genuinely never intentionally meant to do the wrong thing.
“In the 13 years I have been playing for Fremantle I have never wanted to jeopardise my career and position at the club, or let any of my teammates or fans down.
“For that I hope you will accept my deepest and sincerest apology.”
Crowley – who is out of contract at the end of the current season – said he hoped to play for the Dockers again.
He will be allowed to resume training with his teammates two months before the end of the ban.