Today’s finding is incredibly disappointing for everyone concerned at the Essendon Football Club.
This finding is heartbreaking for our players, who will struggle to understand how two tribunals could come to such different conclusions based on the same evidence.
We felt that the comprehensive verdict of the Anti-Doping Tribunal last year was the correct one.
Notwithstanding that, we acknowledge the authority of the Court of Arbitration for Sport and we must accept its decision.
As a Club, we should have had more robust systems in place to ensure the protection of our players.
The Supplements Program of 2012 was a mistake of the highest magnitude.
That said, the penalty imposed on the 34 players is manifestly unfair.
At all times, our players acted in good faith. They sought assurances, and were provided them.
If ever there was a case to be made for a finding of no significant fault, this was it.
This suspension comes on top of three seasons of extreme duress for these young men.
This is their livelihoods, their careers.
And it’s not just the players themselves. It’s their families, their friends, their fans … the ripple effect is huge.
The Essendon Football Club again apologises to our players for failing them in 2012.
We will continue to provide them with every support and guidance.
The Club also apologises to the players’ families, who have shared their journey over the past three years.
To our members, our partners and our supporters we also apologise.
We are a proud and competitive Club with a 142-year history.
We cannot undo the past, only learn from it.
The Club has implemented significant reforms and governance measures since the 2012 season.
We are now entering one of the most challenging periods in our history.
I know this Club – with its loyal and passionate membership base - is strong enough to get through this. We thank you, along with our corporate partners and our staff, for your loyalty and support and I ask each of you to continue to stick by us.
The players now need our support more than ever.