The Court of Arbitration for Sport delivered a guilty verdict for the 34 present and past Essendon Football Club players found to have used the banned performance enhancing substance Thymosin beta-4 during the 2012 season.
The players have been having any contact with their teams or playing organized football in any fashion for what amounts in most cases to one complete season. Only players on teams that finish qualified for the finals might get to play in the 2016 season, since the ban runs until mid-September. Players retained with Essendon most likely will not play in 2016, based on their 15th place finish in 2015 and the unlikely possibility of the Bombers topping off with sufficiently skilled players to reach the 2016 finals.
Any player caught violating the ban runs the risk of having the ban extended by starting an identical ban beginning on the date of the next violation.
Players will be permitted to attend games and sit in the stands as spectators. The AFL might grant media accreditation, allowing the players to work on match day.
It is not certain if the lightness of the ban had anything to do with the seeming ineffectiveness of the Thymosin. All 34 players should consider themselves lucky that they did not get caught chatting up a sideline reporter and therefore risk the lifetime ban some are suggesting as appropriate for cricketer Chris Gayle.