34 Essendon players past and present banned over doping charges in the AFL

12 players still play with the club in Melbourne

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Jobe Watson is one of the players that have been banned. He has played International Rules for Australia. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

34 Australian Rules players have been banned for the 2016 season over their role in using a banned peptide when playing for Essendon Bombers during the 2012 season.

The Melbourne-based club still employ 12 players that will be banned next season, meaning their squad will be decimated for the season that begins in late March.

The ban relates to the use of Thymosin beta-4 by the club four years ago. The club's chairman Lindsay Tanner reacted to the news by releasing a statement on the club's website. "The Supplements Program of 2012 was a mistake of the highest magnitude. That said, the penalty imposed on the 34 players is manifestly unfair."

The 34 players were originally cleared of the charges brought against them, but the World Anti-Doping Agency appealed the decision.

In its ruling, the Court of Arbitration for Sport stated; "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 club is now expected to use reserve and fringe players for the forthcoming season. They last won the AFL's Grand Final in 2000.