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.
|Brady produces stunning fourth-quarter comeback as Patriots reach 10th Super Bowl|
|Hazard: Chelsea don´t need to buy a striker|
|Rakitic hails ´patient´ Barcelona after Real Betis rout|
|Neymar? I´d rather watch the golf, says Bale|
|Mbappe injury from goalkeeper collision ´nothing serious´|
|Don´t look back - Guardiola gives Manchester City title warning|
|Vermaelen to face tests on new hamstring injury|
|Conte wants ´point of reference´ striker as Barnes joins surprising Chelsea links|
|Sane the perfect tonic to Sanchez blues for City and Guardiola|
|Suarez scores 100th LaLiga goal as Messi reaches new milestones|
|Irving scores 40 points on return but Celtics lose again|
|Lyon 2 Paris Saint-Germain 1: 10-man leaders downed by twin wondergoals|
|Inter 1 Roma 1: Vecino snatches point on possible Dzeko farewell|
|Real Betis 0 Barcelona 5: Messi, Suarez rampant as leaders go 11 points clear|
|PSG star Mbappe injured in goalkeeper collision|
|Smith rejects ball tampering talk|
|Monchi: Roma will replace Dzeko|
|Kessie a far better player than I was, claims AC Milan coach Gattuso|
|Neymar to Real Madrid stories manufactured by Spanish press, claims Marquinhos|
|Brady active with taped throwing hand for AFC Championship Game|
|Cagliari 1 AC Milan 2: Kessie at the double in comeback win|
|Watford hire Javi Gracia as Marco Silva successor|
|I am happy with our squad - Pochettino denies Malcom rumours|
|Not much changed - Zidane boosted by clinical Madrid|
|No chance of January move, says Vidal|
|Saracens edge into last eight as Wasps and Ulster miss out|
|Selfie or stitches? Ronaldo bloodied after Madrid brace|
|Heynckes hails Bayern win: This is what sets us apart|
|Southampton 1 Tottenham 1: Kane earns visitors a point|
|Silva assured of chances at AC Milan after latest first-team snub|
|Saracens scrape into Champions Cup last eight|
|Goretzka´s Schalke return marred by abuse|
|Real Madrid 7 Deportivo La Coruna 1: Seven-up for Zidane´s men as Bale shines|
|McIlroy ´in really good shape´ after Abu Dhabi return|
|Muller brings up 100 Bundesliga goals in Bayern win|
|Dimitrov places Kyrgios among tennis´ most talented after Melbourne classic|
|Bayern Munich 4 Werder Bremen 2: Lewandowski & Muller at the double to spare champions´ blushes|
|Do Arsenal or Man Utd get the better deal? Sanchez v Mkhitaryan in Opta numbers|
|Edmund: I can win Australian Open|
|Pele ´fine´ and in ´no pain´ after reported health concerns|
|Dimitrov can go all the way, claims Kyrgios|
|Dominant Wozniacki sets up Suarez Navarro showdown|
|Brilliant back nine sees Fleetwood retain title|
|Surgery pushes Pocock´s Brumbies return back three months|
|No mercenary? Sanchez endorses article defending imminent Man Utd move|
|Allegri expects Buffon to be ´fully recovered´ within a week|
|Atletico Madrid confirm Costa hamstring injury|
|Thisara stars as Sri Lanka stay alive in tri-nation series|
|Atalanta 0 Napoli 1: Mertens ends drought to keep visitors top|
|Nadal through to meet Cilic as Dimitrov downs Kyrgios|
|Dimitrov holds off Kyrgios as wait for home champion goes on|
|Alexis Sanchez boards plane ahead of reported Man United medical|
|Smith not sour over controversial dismissal|
|Buttler the difference for England, says Morgan|
|Hamburg dismiss Gisdol after fourth loss in a row|
|Brilliant Buttler century sets up England series win|
|Melbourne City 5 Adelaide United 0: Budzinksi & Vidosic braces inspire emphatic win|
|Marco Silva sacked by Watford following ´significant deterioration´|
|Nadal promises greater aggression in the last eight|
|Deschamps knows my thoughts - Lucas Hernandez hints at France decision|
|Nadal battles past Schwartzman in Melbourne|
|Wozniacki: I have nothing to lose|
|Impey claims historic Tour Down Under win|
|Rockets end Warriors´ 14-game road winning streak|
|Klopp: Liverpool wouldn´t sell to rivals during season|
|Spence retains IBF welterweight title with TKO of Peterson|
|Wozniacki cruises into Australian Open quarter-finals|
|Giggs keen to help Bale overcome injury woes|
|Harrison key to containing ´monster´ Fournette|
|Klopp in no rush to replace Coutinho|