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.
|Persepolis eye Champions League after Iran impress at World Cup|
|Sandy Lyle gets The Open underway at Carnoustie|
|Roosters sign England international Hall|
|Ovechkin, Kim earn major honours at ESPY Awards|
|Owens not ´actively seeking´ to play in NFL again|
|Argentina need Messi – Tevez urges Lionel not to retire|
|Minnesota United 2 New England Revolution 1: Ramirez, Quintero sink stuttering visitors|
|Shaw: I want to be first name on Man United teamsheet|
|Manny Machado dealt to Dodgers|
|Pjanic hails Ronaldo arrival but refuses to confirm Juve future|
|Perotti: Roma can cope without Liverpool-bound Alisson|
|Klopp hopes Liverpool building towards title tilt|
|Karlovic exits as four seeds bow out in Newport|
|Angels clap back at Manfred´s marketing comments on Trout|
|Titans DL Casey will still protest despite new anthem policy|
|Popovich on Leonard trade: It´s time to move on|
|Zola returns to Chelsea as Sarri´s assistant|
|Anthony Joshua targets ´dream´ fight in Texas|
|Celtic 3 Alashkert 0 (6-0 agg): Dembele hits brace before injury worry|
|Schwartzman stumbles but Spanish duo reach last eight at Swedish Open|
|Top seeds progress in Bucharest as Larsson conquers Kung|
|Perez promises ´incredible´ signings at Real Madrid|
|Liverpool need a top goalkeeper - Souness|
|It was just an absolute car crash - Root regrets bat-drop celebration|
|Mourinho´s pre-season fears mount with Sanchez sidelined|
|Alisson thanks Roma fans ahead of rumoured Liverpool switch|
|Pogba must understand his World Cup heroics, says Mourinho|
|Odriozola excited by Lopetegui reunion at Real Madrid|
|Revis announces retirement from NFL after 11 seasons|
|The Open 2018 diary: Rahm´s saving Grace, Rory´s going grey|
|Kawhi Leonard traded to Raptors as DeMar DeRozan heads to Spurs|
|Cantona, Rosberg and other surprise retirements after Warburton hangs up his boots|
|No doubting Thomas as he climbs into yellow with stage win|
|Liverpool´s Oxlade-Chamberlain to miss ´vast majority´ of 2018-19|
|Open Championship by far the greatest - Player|
|Sarri wants new central midfielder and hints at Chelsea stay for Cahill|
|Nantes sign former Manchester United full-back Fabio|
|Marcelino rewarded with one-year Valencia extension|
|Warburton retires: Bale leads social media tributes to Welsh great|
|Mistakes do not define me, says Chelsea boss Sarri|
|Saints and Tigers to honour Horne with Twickenham clash|
|I want to keep Hazard, says Sarri|
|Europe must stop American juggernaut at Carnoustie|
|Joshua planning for heavyweight ´legacy´ – starting with Povetkin|
|Warburton retires: Wales and Lions star´s career in numbers|
|Matching ´ridiculous´ Tiger not on McIlroy´s radar|
|Spain sent me World Cup SOS, claims Benitez|
|Ozil, Gundogan critics should ´shut up´ - Klopp|
|McIlroy plans to play carefree at Carnoustie|
|Pakistan thrash Zimbabwe to secure series win|
|Warburton retires: Gatland salutes Wales and Lions great|
|Sturridge determined to stay at Liverpool|
|Mbappe is an alien – Varane|
|Warburton retires from rugby|
|India to assess Bhuvneshwar as Bumrah makes Test squad|
|Injured Craddock passes $100,000 in donations at Tour de France|
|WATCH: Perez taunts team-mate after audacious training goal|
|Alison Becker tweets ´I´m joining Liverpool´... but all is not as it seems|
|F1 Raceweek: Hamilton chasing down Schumacher - German GP in numbers|
|Notorious Carnoustie holds fond memories for legendary Watson|
|Rooney refused to be ´dead weight´ at Everton|
|The Open 2018: Molinari, Rahm and the in-form contenders at Carnoustie|
|Marsh interested in Australia leadership roles|
|United can challenge City for Premier League title, says Rooney|
|MLB All-Star 2018: Seven things you missed at Midsummer Classic|
|American League win home run-filled MLB All-Star game|
|Dragons lure Sims from Broncos|
|Cassano: Ronaldo like Nadal, Messi like Federer|
|Lakers´ Ball undergoes successful knee surgery|
|´We kill them, Messi or no Messi´ - Pogba´s pre-Argentina World Cup speech revealed|