JARROD Mullen’s hopes of playing professional rugby league again would appear to hinge on whether the NRL drugs tribunal will show him leniency.
Mullen is facing a four-year ban for breaching the ASADA drugs code after testing positive to banned steroid Drostanolone on November 29 last year.
An NRL spokesman confirmed on Thursday the veteran Newcastle five-eighth has applied to “plead his case and seek a change to his sanction” at the NRL’s anti-doping tribunal.
A hearing is expected within the next few weeks, depending on the availability of tribunal chairman, former High Court judge Ian Callinan QC.
At this stage, it is unclear if Mullen will attempt to fight the charge or just have the ban downgraded.
To have a ban reduced, athletes must prove where the substance came from and establish that they exercised complete caution to avoid ingestion of the drug.
Former ASADA boss Richard Ings said in January it was “not impossible, but very difficult” to have a positive swab totally overturned, and would mean the athlete would need to prove “absolutely no fault at all”.
At 29, Mullen’s 211-game NRL career would appear over if he receives the maximum sentence. But it has been reported that he hopes to argue extenuating circumstances and possibly have the ban reduced to two years, which might allow him to resume playing, possibly in England, in 2019.
The Knights said in a statement on Thursday: "The NRL has advised the club that Jarrod Mullen is electing to take his case to the NRL anti-doping tribunal. It is appropriate [from here] for Jarrod and his management to make any further comment in regards to this decision."