AFL players to appeal doping bans

Banned Essendon players will take their long-running saga to Switzerland in a last-ditch bid to be cleared of doping charges.

At least half the 34 current and former Bombers found guilty of doping are likely to be part of the appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

Essendon’s insurers will fund the appeal.

AFL players association chief executive Paul Marsh confirmed on Friday afternoon that some of the banned Bombers would appeal.

It is three years to the day since Essendon held a media conference to announce they were coming under a joint AFL-ASADA investigation over the club’s 2011-12 supplements program.

The players association and Essendon will not confirm details about the appeal, including how many will be involved, until next Wednesday’s deadline.

“There are certainly going to be some players who are appealing,” Marsh told 5AA.

“They have until Wednesday to change their minds on this, either way.

“So we’re just a little bit hesitant to lock in details.”

Marsh was also not prepared to discuss the grounds for the players’ appeal, again saying more details would be revealed next Wednesday.

But he confirmed they would appeal as a group, not individually.

Marsh also doubts the 17 players still on AFL lists will seek an injunction.

Given it will be about six months before the appeal goes ahead, it means they would still have to sit out this season.

“I guess it’s an option, but a highly-unlikely one at this point,” he said.

“What’s driving this for the players is clearing their names.

“They strongly believe they shouldn’t be considered to be drug cheats, or however they might be labelled.

The appeal will be against last month’s Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) verdict in favour of WADA.

CAS ruled that the 34 players were guilty and had to serve two-year bans.

Few appeals against CAS verdicts are successful.

But there has been a growing determination among players and their lawyers that the CAS finding should be challenged.

Marsh scotched a suggestion that his body might help fund the appeal.

“Categorically, no – we haven’t paid for any legal fees (in) this case since it started three years ago and we won’t be paying for it now,” he said.

Marsh said the players had weighed up the scenario that if they win their appeal, the case could then go back to CAS.

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