AFL Players’ Association boss Paul Marsh insists the 34 current and former Essendon players banned for a year by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for violating anti-doping rules have done nothing wrong.
Marsh says the players’ lawyers will conduct a thorough review of the decision.
“We are struggling to understand how the CAS decision can be so different to that of the AFL anti-doping tribunal,” said Marsh.
Marsh said the players could stand with their heads held high, regardless of the CAS finding.
“If the players were administered with banned substances, they have been deceived,” he said.
“They are the victims, not the perpetrators.
“They deserve our sympathy, not our scorn.
“In circumstances where they have been deceived, I ask this question: `What more could the players have done to ensure that the supplements were compliant?'”
Marsh said the players were “incredibly upset, sad and angry” when they were informed of the sanctions on Tuesday morning.
“They are an incredibly resilient group of players,” he said.
“I have been dealing with them for the last 18 months and I have the highest regard for them.
“They have been through hell and back and today was just unfortunately a nail in the coffin.
“They’re doing it tough.”