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.
|Madrid have best kids stockpiled – Simeone|
|Guardiola backs Stones to get even better|
|Ibrahimovic will start with bench role, says Mourinho|
|Injections to play a friendly – Mourinho slams England over Jones handling|
|Chargers´ Rivers cleared to face Bills|
|Cook grabs RSM Classic lead|
|Nets PG Russell undergoes successful surgery|
|Championship Review: Sheffield United go top|
|Gloucester´s second-half surge stuns leaders Saracens|
|Schurrle: Dortmund couldn´t deal with Stuttgart counter-attacks|
|Conte laments Italy World Cup failure|
|Murray splits with coach Lendl|
|Hartley´s Toro Rosso deal will not affect Porsche status|
|Amiens 1 Monaco 1: Jovetic rescues point but champions give PSG boost|
|Dimitrov eager to keep momentum going after easy Carreno Busta win|
|Stuttgart 2 Borussia Dortmund 1: Bosz pressure builds after more Burki mishaps|
|Sunderland target Coleman steps down as Wales manager|
|Memorable Ashes Moments: Harmison sends down woeful opening wide as England´s defence wilts|
|Conte´s wife tells him to grow a beard – Conte grows a beard|
|Simeone rules out Everton job, promising ´a couple of years at least´ at Atletico|
|Pique to miss Barcelona´s Leganes trip over personal matter|
|Serena Williams reportedly marries Alexis Ohanian in New Orleans|
|UEFA closes Roma ´monkey chanting´ case|
|Swinson set to miss Six Nations after finger surgery|
|Don´t worry about Messi renewal, Valverde tells Barcelona fans|
|Cheika disrespected referee - Jones|
|´Griezmann? We´ll see´ – Valverde won´t rule out Barcelona pursuit of Atletico star|
|Cardinals & Larry Fitzgerald agree to 2018 contract extension|
|Uncapped Enever replaces injured Coleman for Twickenham clash|
|Goffin overcomes slow start & Thiem to set up Federer semi|
|Unsworth surprised to see Allardyce snub Everton|
|Six-week stadium ban for Sale boss Diamond|
|Mourinho has ´immense respect´ for Benitez|
|Howe backs Defoe to make World Cup squad|
|Everton speculation out of my control - Silva focusing on Hornets|
|Conte concerned by Manchester City´s breakaway lead|
|Man City results ´perfect´, but Guardiola demands improvement|
|David Luiz back in Chelsea squad, Conte confirms|
|Recovered Klopp offers Liverpool fitness update|
|Guardiola confident Aguero in ´perfect´ condition despite hospital trip|
|Ibrahimovic, Pogba and Rojo back for Manchester United|
|Fleetwood and Rose look set for desert duel, Fitzpatrick leads in Dubai|
|Heynckes compiling list of potential successors|
|Modric & Carvajal fit for Madrid derby|
|Bayern begin talks over Wagner deal|
|Pulis angered as Chadli sidelined for ´foreseeable future´|
|Neymar to join Ronaldo at Real Madrid? Zidane speaks out on PSG star|
|Edinburgh banking on Barclay after signing Scotland captain|
|Guardiola & Sane complete Man City award double|
|Five-try Holmes makes history as Kangaroos batter Samoa|
|Brave Chapecoense secure top-flight status|
|Mooney seals Australia Women´s Ashes victory|
|Tottenham have overtaken Arsenal as north London´s best - Sherwood|
|Brisbane Roar 3 Melbourne City 1: Papadopoulos at the double as hosts finally win|
|Seaman: Wenger must start Lacazette against Tottenham|
|I am more than just a goal machine - Ronaldo ignores Real Madrid criticism|
|Pujara shows resistance on another rain-affected day|
|Skriniar not interested in Barcelona speculation|
|France need Benzema, says Aulas|
|Warne: Australia look confused ahead of Ashes|
|Donald recovering after being hospitalised with chest pains|
|Youngs braced for ´confrontational and confident´ Wallabies|
|The Breakdown: A statistical look at Saturday´s rugby internationals|
|Van Dijk could leave Southampton in January|
|Sanchez snubbed Barcelona switch - Osorio|
|Malan posts century as England impress in Townsville|
|Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid: Simeone and Zidane face dangerous, defining Derbi|
|Aubameyang baffled by Dortmund suspension|
|Harden scores 48 points as Rockets soar|
|George, Hauritz and Tendulkar – Ashes surprise Paine´s last Test|