Former Essendon coach James Hird has lambasted a decision from an international sporting body to suspend 12 current Bombers players.
The club has faced a tumultuous three years after allegations of doping surfaced in late 2011, with the verdict handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport suspending 34 past and present players for the 2016 season.
Hird labelled it a “miscarriage of justice”.
“I firmly believe the players do not deserve this finding,” he said in a statement.
“They do not deserve to face a 12-month suspension from the sport.”
He reportedly learned of the outcome just moments after the players were told their fate.
But he was not alone in condemning the verdict.
“The greatest miscarriage of sporting justice ever,” former AFL player Graham Cornes said on social media.
“Kangaroo courts really do exist. 34 players guilty? Majority verdict? No appeal? Go figure.”
Hird resigned as senior coach in August 2015, after spending the 2014 season banned from coaching. His departure followed a dismal end to 2013, when the club was also banned from the 2013 finals, fined $2 million and stripped of draft picks.
The players were found not guilty in March 2015, at the AFL anti-doping tribunal, but an appeal from WADA in May saw the saga extended into 2016.
Former Eagles coach John Worsfold took over coaching the club in October 2015.
Despite the devastating outcome for the club, 120 fans had made a point of re-signing their membership with the Bombers on Tuesday morning.