Thirty four Bombers players found guilty of doping
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The Essendon doping saga comes to a dramatic conclusion, as 34 players past and present are found guilty of doping.
The doping saga has been looming over the Essendon football club since 2013.
In a day described as the “blackest day in Australian sport”, a doping scandal within the club was revealed to the AFL and ASADA on February 7, 2013.
Three years later, the final chapter to the on going nightmare has resulted in the penalty of 34 past and present players.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport overruled the not-guilty verdict which was handed down by the AFL Anti-doping Tribunal, after WADA appealed.
12 of the 34 players remain at the club, and will miss the 2016 - key players Jobe Watson and Dyson Heppell included.
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Watson may be given a slightly longer suspension given his involvement in the 2014 international series, and also faces being stripped of his 2012 Brownlow Medal.
“Regrettably we can confirm the Court of Arbitration for Sport has found 34 past and present players guilty of committing an anti-doping rule violation,” a club statement read.
“As a result, the players - including 12 currently listed with Essendon - have been suspended for the 2016 season. The club is currently digesting the decision and we will provide a further update later today.”
A statement from the Court of Arbitration for Sport:
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, SolicitorAdvocate 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.