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.
|Manchester United v Liverpool: Pogba and Salah lead combined XI|
|Pogba can become world´s best player – Vidic|
|Manchester United v Liverpool: When the Reds last visited while in the top two...23 years ago|
|The big Friday Premier League quiz|
|The Breakdown: A statistical look at the third round of Six Nations matches|
|McIlroy feels win isn´t far away|
|Who is Luka Jovic? The Bundesliga goal machine linked with Barcelona|
|Antetokounmpo´s Bucks edge Celtics to extend lead in Eastern Conference|
|Durant blocks Kings rookie Bagley five times in one half|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Atlanta beaten in De Boer´s first competitive game|
|Kucherov notches second straight 100-point NHL season|
|Del Potro into Delray Beach quarters, Kyrgios exits|
|Sarri: Chelsea´s season better than Arsenal´s|
|Padres confirm Machado´s 10-year, $300m deal|
|Williamson diagnosed with grade one knee sprain|
|Vidic: Solskjaer a better fit than big-name managers for United|
|Giroud issues EFL Cup warning after Chelsea´s Europa League win|
|McIlroy leads in Mexico, Woods shoots 71|
|Romero edges into lead in Puerto Rico|
|City out to make history against Chelsea - Silva|
|We were sweet enemies - Mourinho salutes old rival Wenger|
|Inter improvement not down to Icardi absence - Spalletti|
|This Week in US Sports: Manny Machado finds a home, Williamson gets hurt|
|Sarri rubbishes Roma rumour|
|Halep takes positives despite Dubai defeat|
|Reigning champion Van Uytvanck progresses in Budapest|
|Brough stars for Wakefield on milestone outing|
|Serbia progress in the balance with one game to go|
|DeMarcus Cousins blasts college basketball after Zion Williamson injury|
|UEFA explains ´technical issue´ behind Schalke-City VAR delays|
|Coric, Verdasco humbled in Open 13|
|Inter 4 Rapid Vienna 0 (5-0 agg): Nerazzurri cruise into Europa League last 16|
|Chelsea 3 Malmo 0 (5-1 agg): Sarri´s side stroll into last 16|
|Halep out, Kvitova dominant in Dubai|
|Marotta ´very optimistic´ Godin will join Inter|
|Emery praises Arsenal´s game management after European progress|
|Valencia 1 Celtic 0 (3-0 agg): Toljan sent off as Bhoys crash out|
|Arsenal 3 BATE 0 (3-1 agg): Emery´s men ease through|
|Woods to skip Honda Classic, play Arnold Palmer Invitational|
|Sarri recalls Hudson-Odoi for Malmo match|
|Silverwood in line for England job|
|WATCH: Norwegian goalkeeper scores stunning free-kick|
|Bencic ends Halep´s Dubai dreams|
|Playing conditions confirmed for The Hundred, reveals ECB|
|Manchester City fan suffered ´traumatic brain injury´ in alleged assault|
|Afghanistan too strong for Ireland in T20 opener|
|History-chasing Sri Lanka edge Proteas on day one|
|Tottenham an ´exciting and brilliant´ team, says Kanoute|
|Klopp fined £45,000 referee comments|
|Mourinho to analyse Clasico for beIN SPORTS|
|Ronaldo has won three Champions Leagues, not five – Atletico president Cerezo hits back at Juventus|
|Greatest Wales side ever? Not in my book, says Gatland|
|FA charge Millwall over racist chanting|
|Saiss signs new Wolves deal|
|Klopp impressed by Solskjaer´s ´brilliant job´ at United|
|De Jong excited to join ´greatest ever´ Messi at Barca|
|Gattuso ´not building anything´ at AC Milan|
|Manchester City fan in critical condition after alleged assault following Schalke game|
|Kovac wants repeat of Bayern´s defensive efforts|
|Semenya sets record straight over government funding for IAAF case|
|Tottenham´s Kane to be assessed ahead of Burnley clash|
|McIlroy to skip Irish Open|
|England rest Stokes and Buttler for Windies T20s|
|Lambert given two-game touchline ban after East Anglian derby fracas|
|Gatland puts faith in Anscombe to face England|
|PSG terminate Diarra contract|
|Nantes grant Cardiff extension over Sala payment, Warnock confirms|
|Horne replaces Russell for injury-hit Scotland in Paris|
|Eriksen´s agent ignoring transfer speculation|
|Moon and Nowell to start for England against Wales|