All 34 Essendon players will appeal against their AFL anti-doping suspensions, AFL Players’ Association CEO Paul Marsh confirmed on Thursday morning.
The basis of the appeal will be the Court of Arbitration for Sport erred in allowing a de novo, or new, hearing when it heard WADA’s challenge to the original AFL anti-doping tribunal verdict.
The CAS upheld the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) appeal of the AFL anti-doping tribunal’s decision in 2016 to clear the players of wronging over the Bombers’ 2012 supplements program.
The doping offences relate to the use of the prohibited substance Thymosin Beta-4.
The judgement laid the blame on the players for helping to hide the supplements program.
Essendon Football Club chairman Linsday Tanner confirmed the players had decided to launch an appeal against the ruling in the Swiss federal court, which had been widely expected.
He said the club continued to support the players in pursuing the appeal in an endeavour to clear their names.
“We feel as a club we have an obligation to support the players,” Mr Tanner said.
“It’s ultimately their choice to initiate an appeal. My understanding is that they’ve all chosen to be part of that.
“The legal advice, I understand, indicates that their prospects for success are at least reasonable.”
Mr Tanner said the players had not sought an injunction against the suspensions and would ultimately have to serve out the one-year ban, regardless of the appeal proceedings, meaning the players would miss the 2016 AFL season.
“So in other words, they have effectively opted to accept the penalty that has been imposed on them because I gather the Swiss proceedings will take some months,” he said.
The club chairman conceded even if the players did get “the ideal outcome” it was hard to see how they could play.
“It’s theoretically possible they could succeed in these proceedings and be available to play and play before the end of the 2016 season but it sounds to me like that’s an unlikely picture,” he said.
There are currently 12 of the original 34 players still on the books at Essendon, including captain Jobe Watson and vice-captain Dyson Heppell.
The other current players affected are Michael Hurley, Cale Hooker, Michael Hibberd, Brent Stanton, Travis Colyer, David Myers, Tom Bellchambers, Heath Hocking, Ben Howlett and Tayte Pears.