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.
|Vardy relishing Fleetwood return|
|Pau stay perfect with win over Agen|
|USB joking? Klitschko stick and robe sold for mega money|
|Almiron blocked from becoming Las Palmas coach|
|Ligue 1 adopts VAR from next season|
|Calabria extends AC Milan contract|
|Everton give new deals to Calvert-Lewin, Holgate & Kenny|
|Gooch backs Cook to rediscover England form|
|Itoje could return before Six Nations|
|Under-fire Hughes promises results will come for Stoke|
|Mourinho asked to explain pre-Manchester derby comments|
|Stoger sets Dortmund end of year target|
|Dyche: No swaggering from high-flying Burnley|
|Watzke plays down Nagelsmann rumour as Dortmund plan for 2018|
|Guardiola´s record runs with Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Barcelona compared|
|Martin lashes out at ´double standards´ in Froome ´scandal´|
|Day two crucial for England´s Ashes chances - Gooch|
|Benteke goal drought a concern for Hodgson|
|Nibali to skip 2018 Giro to focus on Tour|
|City look frightening – Rose|
|Kahn regrets rejecting Manchester United|
|Ireland scrum-half Marmion commits to Connacht|
|Giants president Mara wants Manning back for 2018|
|Malan pleased to silence the doubters with maiden century|
|No Australia involvement in fixing allegations - Paine|
|Bayern wrapping up Ribery for Christmas|
|Wilshere no closer to signing fresh Arsenal contract|
|Resurgent Rooney has Europe´s best shot-conversion record|
|Froome fears salbutamol stigma for asthma sufferers|
|Pastore bullish over PSG chances against Madrid|
|Paine calls on Australia to trigger England collapse|
|Independiente boss overjoyed by ´dream´ Copa Sudamericana success|
|Malan ´over the moon´ with first Test century|
|Silva is an animal - Guardiola|
|The Ashes Round-up: Malan´s maiden hundred steals the show|
|Malan and Bairstow shine as England prosper in Perth|
|Hewitt to come out of retirement at Australian Open|
|Wenger not blaming Sanchez for Arsenal´s goal woes|
|I haven´t broken any rules - Froome believes legacy remains untainted|
|Stokes finds form with 93 off 47 balls|
|Mourinho can´t find room for misfiring Mkhitaryan|
|De Grandhomme to miss ODI series following death of his father|
|Aggressive Aussies dismiss Stoneman and Root in eventful session|
|Thunder lift George in return to Indiana, Celtics bounce back|
|Stoneman targets Aussies in exciting start to Perth Test|
|Guardiola tells fans Man City won´t stop after record-breaking win|
|George has ´closure´ as Pacers continue to rise|
|Rodgers ´not coming back to save´ Packers|
|Angels manager Scioscia has no concerns about Ohtani´s elbow|
|Mirabelli: Donnarumma has to beg Milan if he wants to leave|
|ICC: No evidence to suggest Ashes Test has been corrupted|
|Marsh comes in for Handscomb as England bat first in Perth|
|Bayern lacked verve, says Heynckes|
|Di Maria wants more game time at PSG after goalscoring display|
|Monaco stay unbeaten, Ludwigsburg crush PAOK|
|Fixing allegations ´of serious concern´ to Cricket Australia|
|Gattuso: Donnarumma shaken by abuse from AC Milan fans|
|Pellegrino calls for Southampton reaction|
|Benitez ´needs to know´ extent of Newcastle´s transfer budget|
|Zidane will not request striker signing despite Benzema blanks|
|Bournemouth excellent in Old Trafford loss – Howe|
|Wilshere´s performance ´very positive´, says Wenger|
|Pochettino challenges Spurs to keep top-four berth|
|I´d be in Brazil if the title race was over – Mourinho|
|It was hard to watch - Clement wowed by City´s dominance of Swansea|
|Bailly may require surgery on ´serious´ ankle injury|
|Klopp uncertain on Solanke´s disallowed goal|
|Guardiola sure record-breaking City won´t get complacent|
|Puel focuses on Leicester win, not Southampton revenge|
|Strasbourg 2 Paris Saint-Germain 4: Revenge is sweet for Emery´s men|