Essendon are in turmoil after 12 members of their squad were banned for the 2016 AFL season when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) found 34 past and present players guilty of breaching anti-doping regulations.
The AFL and Essendon were rocked on Tuesday when CAS announced it had upheld an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) after the 34 were initially cleared of any wrongdoing by an AFL anti-doping appeals tribunal.
CAS were "comfortably satisfied" that the current and former players were administered Thymosin beta-4, which violated the anti-doping code during the 2012 season, with the majority of the players in question banned until November.
The ruling is set to leave Essendon starved of the services of captain Jobe Watson, Dyson Heppell, Michael Hurley, Cale Hooker, Michael Hibberd and Brent Stanton.
Travis Colyer, David Myers, Tom Bellchambers, Heath Hocking, Ben Howlett and Tayte Pears will also sit out the 2016 campaign, with former Essendon players Paddy Ryder, Angus Monfries, Stewart Crameri, Jake Carlisle and Jake Melksham also banned and half of the 34 no longer playing in the AFL.
A CAS statement said: "The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has today issued its decision in the arbitration procedure between the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and 34 current and former players of Essendon.
"The appeal filed by WADA against the Australian Football League (AFL) Anti-Doping Tribunal's decision of 31 March 2015 is upheld and the appealed decision is set aside.
"The 34 players concerned are sanctioned with a period of ineligibility of two years, commencing on 31 March 2015, with credit given for any individual period of ineligibility already served.
"Thus, most of the suspensions will come to an end in November 2016.
"The arbitration procedure was conducted by a panel of CAS arbitrators: the Hon. Michael J. Beloff QC, barrister in London, United Kingdom [President], Mr. Romano Subiotto QC, Solicitor Advocate in Brussels, Belgium, and the Hon. James Spigelman AC QC, barrister in Sydney, Australia and London, United Kingdom.
"The Panel held a hearing with the parties in Sydney, Australia from 16 to 20 November 2015. In its Arbitral Award, the Panel found to its comfortable satisfaction that Clause 11.2 of the 2010 AFL Doping Code [use of a prohibited substance] has been violated and found by a majority that all players were significantly at fault."
Essendon responded to the verdict with a short statement on their website saying the club are "currently digesting the decision" and will provide an update later in the day.
|O´Sullivan stunned by amateur Cahill in another early exit|
|Wolfsburg confirm Glasner as new head coach|
|Suns fire coach Kokoskov after one season|
|Iniesta named new Vissel Kobe captain|
|Retiring too early would haunt me forever - Khan|
|Burnley laugh off ´anti-football´ jibes|
|Solskjaer convinced he can turn Manchester United´s slump around|
|Halep withdraws from Stuttgart Open with hip injury|
|They will snap at your ankles and kick you - Solskjaer mindful of Man City tactics|
|Sterling says racism ´runs deep´ in football & calls for radical changes|
|Defending Favors ´draining´ for Rockets – Harden|
|Mitchell thanks Jazz team-mates after flashing Game 4 warning at Rockets|
|Former Celtic captain and manager McNeill dies aged 79|
|Zaha´s desire to leave Palace understandable – Dann|
|General manager Gould to leave Panthers|
|Jovic set for greatness amid Barca and Madrid links – Milosevic|
|Rays bounce back with win over Royals|
|Bucks´ progress an ´unbelievable journey´, says Giannis|
|Bucks complete sweep of Pistons, Jazz hold off Rockets|
|From Australia to Yokohama: Postecoglou wants to leave mark on Japanese football|
|Fowler ´can´t see´ Man United denying City|
|Fowler confirmed as Brisbane Roar coach|
|Miller doesn´t deserve to be in the ring – Joshua|
|Dyche dismisses ´anti-football´ accusations|
|First time in my life – Milner supporting United in Manchester derby|
|Cowboys´ Cooper describes relationship with Prescott|
|Zola suggests Chelsea to report Burnley after Sarri was allegedly ´offended´|
|Nets´ Dudley doubles down on Simmons comments|
|Hudson-Odoi says his season is over with ruptured Achilles tendon|
|Arthur backs Pakistan to mount World Cup challenge|
|David Luiz accuses Burnley of playing ´anti-football´|
|Pogba blasts Manchester United for ´disrespectful´ performance in Everton humbling|
|NFL Draft 2019: Five sleeper prospects|
|NFL Draft 2019: Five potential first-round surprises|
|Chelsea 2 Burnley 2: Kante injured as Sarri´s men waste chance to go third|
|Kante off injured ahead of crucial period for Chelsea|
|Ruthless Saints thrash Hull FC, Warrington thump Rovers|
|Pant sends Capitals top despite Rahane hundred|
|AFC Champions League Review: Xavi stars in last-gasp Al Sadd victory|
|Brentford 2 Leeds United 0: Automatic promotion hopes hanging by a thread for Bielsa|
|Verdasco edges ahead of old rival Lopez in Barcelona, Mayer books Nadal date|
|Martic rallies to oust Zidansek in Istanbul|
|Heavyweight Ali pays the Price for bite|
|Championship Review: Sheffield United put the pressure back on Leeds, Norwich City held|
|Valverde to be patient with returning Barcelona star Dembele|
|Valencia winger Cheryshev to miss Copa del Rey final|
|DaMarkus Lodge relishing chance to prove himself as all-round receiver|
|Hassan named in Afghanistan World Cup squad|
|Bayern ´not easy´ for Sanches, accepts Kovac|
|Sissoko could miss two weeks – Pochettino|
|Pakistan announce Shadab Khan treatment plans|
|Coman and Gnabry impressing Bayern Munich boss Kovac|
|Khan will not retire on Crawford loss|
|Pavard: Bayern signed me because I am one of the best|
|Eels open new home by thumping tame Tigers|
|Folau´s Rugby Australia hearing set for May 4|
|Henderson urges Liverpool to ´keep believing´ in title race|
|McCollum driven by past Blazers failure|
|Hertha confirm broken ankle for rumoured Bayern target Stark|
|Young promises United response in Manchester derby|
|Mbappe won´t leave PSG, insists Tuchel|
|Warriors and Trail Blazers extend leads, Celtics reach Conference semis|
|Red Sox, Yankees claim extra-inning wins to continue turnarounds|
|Matic: Man United didn´t have leaders against Everton|
|Tuchel calls for Champions League patience after Ligue 1 glory|
|MLS Review: Vela leads LAFC rout, New York end winless start|
|Kerr backs Warriors star Curry to bounce back quickly|
|76ers star Butler, Nets´ Dudley fined after playoff clash|
|We always feel the same happiness – Al-Khelaifi revels in PSG´s Ligue 1 success|
|Paris Saint-Germain 2018-19: More goals and tighter at the back – the numbers behind Tuchel´s triump|