Poole Pirates' Darcy Ward has been banned from speedway for 10 months for failing a breathalyser test in August.
The 22-year-old Australian has been given a backdated suspension and will be unavailable until 28 June - halfway through the 2015 season.
However, Pirates owner Matt Ford says Ward could ride again before the end of the campaign.
"He'll be able to join the club at the business end of the season, should we need him," he told BBC Radio Solent.
"I think that potentially it could have been worse, so at least now we know where we are," Ford added.
Ward had been indefinitely banned by the sport's governing body since 28 August, after failing an alcohol breath test at the Latvian Grand Prix.
The Pirates won the 2014 Elite League without the two-time world under-21 champion and they will be forced to compete without him once again.
The south coast team are expected to now finalise their team plans within the next few days.