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.
|Phenomenal Froome claims stunning Giro lead as Yates capitulates|
|Bertens, Kontaveit and Kasatkina – Can Ostapenko´s Roland Garros fairytale be matched?|
|Klopp less excited about second final appearance|
|It´s funny if two managers in the final have no clue about tactics - Klopp defends Zidane|
|Salah´s long-term potential ´not important´, says focused Klopp|
|It´s kind of unreal - Kvitova surprised by her success ahead of French Open return|
|Man United and Real Madrid favourite Beckham begs Zidane to beat Liverpool|
|Storm and Raiders snatch dramatic wins|
|Boateng desperate for ´best in the world´ Neuer to play|
|Great players have to play here - Real Madrid´s Marcelo continues Neymar courtship|
|Salah can win Ballon d´Or with Champions League triumph, says Luiz|
|Roland Garros wins ´exactly the same´ for Nadal regardless of Federer involvement|
|Rebels romp past Sunwolves, Crusaders retain top spot|
|Halep ´stronger mentally´ as she seeks first grand slam title|
|Cipriani on bench for Baa Baas clash|
|Ronaldo´s rival Salah shifts focus back to Liverpool versus Real Madrid|
|Two arrested in Kiev after clashes before Champions League final|
|Johnny Nelson leads tributes after death of Brendan Ingle|
|Batshuayi puts off Chelsea plans until after World Cup|
|Devon Smith back in Windies squad, Hamilton earns maiden call-up|
|Thiago hints at uncertain Bayern Munich future|
|Dhananjaya pulls out of Windies tour following death of father|
|I feel great - Kerr keeps faith with Warriors on the brink|
|Ronaldo: I can´t be compared with Salah|
|Buffon agent backs Paris Saint-Germain move|
|ICC confirms smart watches prohibited|
|Real Madrid v Liverpool: Champions League final in Opta numbers|
|Mane sends 300 Liverpool shirts to Senegal village for Champions League final|
|Arthur will not join Barcelona before December, Gremio insist|
|Real Madrid v Liverpool: Key battles in the Champions League final|
|Trout hits 15th HR, Bundy strikes out 14|
|Rockets star Paul dealing with hamstring injury|
|Does he only care about his hair? - Denmark coach Hareide slams Pogba, France|
|Rockets push Warriors to brink of elimination|
|World number 84 Kicker suspended for match-fixing|
|WATCH: Paul shimmies in Curry´s face|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Estudiantes into last 16 after thrilling win over Nacional|
|Ronaldo: Cristiano and Neymar would be good together at Madrid|
|Rockets honour Santa Fe victims, first responders at game five|
|Real Madrid rejected €150m offers for Asensio – agent|
|Marshall, Baldwin react strongly to Trump´s comments on NFL anthem stance|
|Nabura handed six-week ban for wild kick|
|Pedroia to return for Red Sox on Friday|
|Warriors´ Iguodala ruled out for game five against Rockets|
|Na leads as Spieth makes solid start at Colonial|
|James Harden, LeBron James headline 2017-18 All-NBA first team|
|Manchester United target Fred to decide future after World Cup|
|´Incredible´ Salah is like Messi, says Ronaldo|
|Salah a big candidate for Ballon d´Or - Muller|
|Message from coach keeping Masters champion Reed grounded|
|Anybody can really win it - Seles feels French Open is wide open this year|
|Mambo number 5! - Non-league star channels Lou Bega hit|
|Pakistan to stop wearing smart watches after ICC intervention - Hasan|
|Saha hails ´great man´ Ferguson as legendary Man Utd boss continues recovery|
|Emery´s depth of knowledge impressed Arsenal´s Gazidis|
|Conceicao extends Porto contract|
|Lomax impresses as Saints overrun Tigers|
|McIlroy in contention at Wentworth as Bjerregaard sets the early pace|
|Bad light calls time on Thiem, Wawrinka out in Geneva|
|Garitano in, Canales out at Real Sociedad|
|Caparros accepts new role at Sevilla|
|Pliskova downed by Larsson after drawing Serena in Paris|
|They´re using the anthem as fake patriotism - Warriors coach Kerr critical of NFL|
|Lyon win record fifth Women´s Champions League title|
|French Open 2018: Doing the unthinkable - the men most likely to topple Nadal|
|French Open 2018: How can Rafael Nadal be stopped?|
|Steve Smith named as marquee player for Global T20 Canada|
|Can Emre play? Yes he Can... and so can Milner|
|Liverpool working to help fans after flight cancellations|
|Abbas and Hasan torment sorry England|