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.
|Bennett ´wasn´t nervous´ during storming Tonga fightback|
|Chawrasia expects to feel the nerves in Hong Kong|
|Pochettino massive to me, says Alli|
|Broad allays Anderson injury concerns|
|Juve to complete €46m deal for Costa|
|The Ashes round-up: Smith hundred and Hazlewood burst rattle England|
|Centurion Smith and Hazlewood put Australia on top|
|England withstand stunning Tonga fightback to reach final|
|Day moves into Australian Open lead|
|Warriors embarrass Bulls, Thunder lose despite Westbrook triple-double|
|Murray mercilessly mocks USA president Trump|
|Inspirational Smith hits century to thwart England|
|Guardiola more ´logical´ for Man United than Mourinho – Cantona|
|England unconcerned over Anderson after scare|
|Shaky starts for Greece, Russia in World Cup qualifying|
|Messi has ´no doubt´ about Real Madrid´s Champions League chances|
|England on top as wickets fall in Brisbane|
|Maxwell scores 278 in Ashes reminder|
|Falcons RB Freeman ruled out with concussion|
|Klopp quashes Conte´s recovery complaints|
|Hoeness believes in Bayern´s ´new spirit´|
|Warriors pair Durant, Green out of Bulls clash|
|Panthers activate Olsen from IR ahead of Jets clash|
|Mourinho slams Mkhitaryan for disappearing during Manchester United games|
|Newcastle beaten by Gloucester in Premiership|
|Hart hails West Ham fight under Moyes|
|Ulster leave it late to deny Treviso second away victory|
|Dolphins QB Cutler out with concussion against Patriots|
|Conte calls for clarity from Chelsea on Courtois deal|
|West Ham 1 Leicester City 1: Kouyate gets Moyes up and running|
|Robinson tips Farrell for World Rugby Player of the Year|
|Manchester United midfielder Carrick undergoes heart procedure|
|Manchester City youngster Bytyqi retires with heart condition|
|England can thrive on hostile atmosphere - O´Loughlin|
|Salah could become the Premier League´s greatest African star - Lauren|
|Lauren reserves judgement on Man City´s invincible credentials|
|Goffin and Tsonga cancel each other out on opening day of Davis Cup final|
|Stafford admits ankle is ´not 100 percent´ after Lions´ loss to Vikings|
|Bayern boss Heynckes slams ´insanity´ of Champions League ticket prices|
|Messi hails Barcelona team-mates after European Golden Shoe triumph|
|Napoli´s Hamsik saves space for a Serie A title-winning tattoo|
|Jardim urges quick Monaco response to Champions League woe|
|You always have a chance - Wagner hopeful of Man City scalp|
|Chelsea´s tough title defence was to be expected - Klopp|
|Horne replaces Dunbar in Scotland XV|
|Neymar and Cavani bound by common goal at PSG|
|Simeone: Everything seems better when Atletico win|
|F1 Raceweek: Scores to be settled in Abu Dhabi|
|Injuries not to blame for Real Madrid LaLiga position - Zidane|
|Icardi could stay at Inter forever, says Spalletti|
|Former England star Owen finishes second on horse racing debut|
|Emery backs Mbappe to shine on Monaco return|
|Robben-less Heynckes handed timely Coman boost|
|Guardiola not complacent ahead of Huddersfield clash|
|Trump to ´quickly´ play golf with Woods and Johnson|
|Salah not Liverpool´s only threat, insists Conte|
|Klopp trusts Moreno ´100 per cent´ despite Sevilla shocker|
|No excuses for Conte despite Chelsea´s travel trouble|
|Salah has nothing to prove in Chelsea reunion, says Klopp|
|We´re on the Ball - Paceman Jake says England´s homework is paying off|
|Bale return could be imminent - Zidane|
|Megson´s interim role is no audition as he awaits permanent West Brom boss|
|Bosz has derby focus despite Dortmund criticism|
|Kaka predicts bright future for Milan´s Silva|
|Lyon not sorry for controversial pre-Ashes comments|
|Ashwin takes four as India skittle out Sri Lanka|
|Messi equals Ronaldo with fourth European Golden Shoe|
|Mourinho fears Fellaini exit amid Arsenal, PSG links|
|I don´t know what you want - Mourinho blasts Man United critics|
|Mourinho protecting Pogba and Ibrahimovic as they prepare for Brighton|