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.
|Imperious Federer sails into semi-finals|
|Maldini backs Gattuso for AC Milan success|
|Injured Nadal expects to be fit in three weeks|
|Mascherano to join Hebei China Fortune|
|Klopp urges Liverpool to ´strike back immediately´|
|Thiago Silva hits out at ´exaggerated´ Pastore spat claims|
|Classy Chung catching the eye in Melbourne|
|UEFA Nations League: What is it and how will it work?|
|Impressive Halep cruises past Pliskova|
|Spurs spoil LeBron´s 30,000th-point celebration|
|Westbrook says George should be All-Star|
|Chung continues dream Australian Open run|
|Keys unhappy with quarter-final display|
|Kerber full of confidence in Melbourne|
|Neymar is loved by PSG fans – Emery|
|LeBron James becomes youngest NBA player with 30,000 points|
|NBA All-Star Game reserves leaked ahead of announcement|
|Kerber crushes Keys to reach Aus Open semis|
|Serena Williams set to make competitive return in Fed Cup|
|Heat guard Waiters undergoes season-ending ankle surgery|
|Simeone shoulders blame for Atletico´s Copa exit|
|Wenger: Sanchez not a mercenary for joining Manchester United|
|Phil Neville deletes Twitter account after controversial posts surface|
|Sam Curran added to England T20 tri-series squad|
|Guardiola: Quadruple-chasing City will only be judged on trophies|
|Karsiyaka and Nymburk reach FIBA Champions League last 16|
|Batshuayi out of chances to convince Conte|
|Chelsea lacked finances to compete with City & United for Sanchez - Conte|
|Sevilla 3 Atletico Madrid 1 (5-2 agg): Griezmann stunner not enough for semi spot|
|Bristol City 2 Manchester City 3 (3-5 agg): Guardiola through to first English final|
|Serena can return for more grand slam success – King|
|O´Neill signs Ireland extension|
|Teachers bowled over by Edmund ability|
|Woods grouped with Reed and Hoffman at Torrey Pines|
|New signing Jach sees Palace as platform for World Cup spot|
|Thomas replaces Sinckler in England training camp|
|Phil Neville appointed England Women´s manager|
|Heat unveil Miami Vice-themed uniforms|
|Kenedy leaves Chelsea for Newcastle loan|
|Wozniacki still haunted by 2011 Li Na loss|
|PSG rule out ´traumatic´ injury for Mbappe|
|PSG boost midfield options with surprise Diarra signing|
|Dyche commits to Burnley to 2022|
|Patriots elect to wear white in Super Bowl LII|
|Kobe Bryant´s ´Dear Basketball´ short film nominated for Oscar|
|Zidane tells Real Madrid fans to stop jeering Benzema|
|Players must manage their own schedules, says Cilic|
|Lucas Moura free to leave PSG, confirms Emery|
|Kenedy set for Newcastle as Conte waits for window to close|
|Bouchard agrees to another Super Bowl date|
|Neymar and Mbappe in doubt for PSG´s clash with Guingamp|
|Targeting the backhand, attacking the net and 83 winners: How Cilic subdued Nadal|
|Mascherano to leave Barcelona as Hebei move looms|
|Wozniacki reaches Australian Open semi-finals in early hours|
|Conte rules Morata and Fabregas out of Arsenal clash|
|Tamim and Shakib leave Zimbabwe facing tri-nation exit|
|Clarets snap up Lennon from Everton|
|Too many people are getting injured - Nadal frustrated by Aus Open retirement|
|Dzeko set to face Sampdoria despite Chelsea reports|
|It´s really unfortunate for Rafa - Cilic sympathises with injured Nadal|
|Zidane rejects suggestions he won ´battle´ over Kepa|
|Surprise semi-finalist Mertens ready for more Melbourne magic|
|Sorry Stars fail to shine again as Sixers claim consolation win|
|Injured Nadal bows out of Australian Open to Cilic|
|Ramos trains for Real Madrid as wounded Ronaldo works indoors|
|Wijnaldum admits Liverpool ´gave a half away´ against Swansea|
|I know what it feels like to be Andy Murray - Edmund revels in limelight|
|Wenger: Arsenal are about values, not millions|
|Gracious Dimitrov says Edmund deserved to win|
|Aubameyang to Arsenal not close, says Wenger|