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.
|Brady and Patriots crash to back-to-back defeats|
|Gundogan looking forward to ´real test´ against Liverpool|
|Cubs move closer to clinching NL Central|
|Valverde bewildered by Lenglet red card as Barca boss questions VAR|
|Cronk a ´long shot´ to play in NRL Grand Final|
|Cleary re-signs with Panthers until 2024|
|Bills stun Vikings, Chiefs QB Mahomes impresses again|
|Tiger feels he can surpass Snead´s record after 80th victory|
|Ronaldo mentally stronger than others, says Allegri|
|MLS Review: Ibrahimovic scores as Galaxy end seven-game skid, Dallas reclaim top spot in west|
|Rose told Woods it was ´about time´ after win|
|Dustin Johnson regains number one ranking|
|Pogba: Sanchez will deliver at Man United|
|Federer, Zverev help Europe defend Laver Cup|
|I couldn´t sit or stand – Tiger Woods reflects on back woes after ending drought|
|Snead´s record in sight – Tiger Woods´ 80 PGA Tour wins|
|Nicklaus, Magic Johnson, McIlroy and Kane – Sports stars celebrate Tiger´s Tour win|
|Tiger Woods season in review: Tour Championship win caps remarkable comeback|
|49ers fear QB Garoppolo suffered torn ACL|
|World of golf is proud of Woods – Rose|
|WATCH: Tiger followed by incredible sea of fans at East Lake|
|Three takeaways from the 2017-18 PGA Tour season|
|Mbappe shows off signed Pele shirt|
|Tiger timeline: Woods´ fall and rise|
|Spieth´s breakthrough, Garcia´s Masters moment - Events between Tiger´s triumphs|
|Tiger Woods: I was close to tears on the last hole|
|Woods earns first win since 2013; Rose claims FedEx Cup|
|Pogba implores Manchester United to ´attack, attack, attack´|
|Valverde, Busquets and Vidal criticise Lenglet dismissal|
|Tiger Woods: The stunning statistics|
|Fitness hindering Dybala form, says Allegri|
|BREAKING NEWS: Woods claims first title since 2013, Rose wins FedEx Cup|
|Povetkin struggles leave Joshua with no Wilder fear|
|Guardiola targets Barca, Bayern dominance with Premier League priority|
|Centurions Rohit and Dhawan put India in final|
|Eagles top Colts as Wentz makes his return|
|Barcelona 2 Girona 2: Stuani brace punishes Lenglet red|
|Frosinone 0 Juventus 2: Ronaldo redeemed as champions extend perfect start|
|Gattuso: No alibis for two-faced AC Milan|
|Bangladesh hold on despite late Afghanistan charge|
|Composed Woods hits turn with five-shot lead|
|Chiefs´ Mahomes has another record-breaking Sunday|
|Saints QB Drew Brees passes Brett Favre for most career completions|
|Emery hints Leno may need patience after Cech display|
|Picamoles scores four as Montpellier batter 14-man Toulouse|
|Messi breaks LaLiga record|
|Worcester fend off prowling Tigers, Sarries go top|
|AC Milan 2 Atalanta 2: Last-gasp Rigoni rescues a point|
|Neymar keen to repay supporter affection|
|Pellegrini rues West Ham´s wastefulness|
|Paris Saint-Germain´s positive response buoys Tuchel|
|Lewis rekindles fond memories with Vilamoura triumph|
|Arsenal 2 Everton 0: Lacazette, Aubameyang extend winning streak|
|Stephens suffers as Osaka withdraws in Wuhan|
|Rhinos run riot to secure Super League status|
|Risk brings reward for victorious Marquez|
|Let´s have some fun - Wentz tweets message to Eagles fans ahead of return|
|Maybe in a year Chelsea will be at Liverpool´s level – Sarri|
|Under-pressure Rodgers bemoans ´bitty´ Celtic start|
|Slater should be banned for Grand Final - Fittler|
|Simon ends Bachinger fairytale to lift Metz title|
|Dominant Thiem reigns in St. Petersburg|
|Neymar hands young fan his shirt during Paris Saint-Germain victory|
|Quick-Step Floors storm to fourth time trial gold|
|Jorginho sets new passing record in West Ham draw|
|Rubiales slams ´crazy´ LaLiga schedule|
|Rennes 1 Paris Saint-Germain 3: Tuchel´s Ligue 1 record stays perfect|
|Why so serious? Joshua reveals Fury has blocked him on Twitter|
|West Ham 0 Chelsea 0: Sarri´s 100 per cent start comes to frustrating end|
|Marvellous Marquez reigns in Aragon yet again|