Jobe Watson is expected to make unwanted AFL history next month when he becomes the first Brownlow Medallist to be stripped of the honour.
The AFL Commission will meet on November 15 to consider the thorny question of what to do about Watson’s 2012 Brownlow.
The issue was put on hold while Watson and 33 other Essendon players made a last-ditch appeal in Switzerland against their doping convictions.
The Swiss Federal Tribunal announced on Tuesday night (AEDT) that it had ruled against the appeal, clearing the way for the Commission hearing.
Watson’s Brownlow is at stake because his doping offence occurred during the 2012 season.
There is widespread speculation Watson will lose his Brownlow, in the same way that athletes convicted of doping offences have lost Olympic medals.
It also emerged on Wednesday that the AFL had invited Hawthorn star Sam Mitchell and Richmond captain Trent Cotchin – the joint runners-up in the 2012 Brownlow – to make submissions about the issue.
But the two players declined the offer.
“He was given the opportunity, if he wanted to, but no, he has no interest in presenting,” Mitchell’s manager Peter Lenton told AFL Trade Radio.
Lenton admitted to unease about Mitchell potentially being awarded his first Brownlow, given the circumstances.
“It would be a really strange way to get it and an uncomfortable way to receive it,” Lenton said.
“But if that’s the way it’s determined, I suppose you have to go by the umpire’s decision.”
Another potential solution for the Commission is to strip Watson of the medal, but not declare a 2012 winner.
The Tour de France took that approach when stripping drug cheat Lance Armstrong of his record seven titles, although a key reason was that so many of his rivals in that era were also known to have doped.
Meanwhile, ASADA chief executive Ben McDevitt fired a shot at the Essendon players after their failed Swiss appeal.
ASADA noted that the players had agreed to the terms of the CAS arbitration hearing.
In January, CAS ruled in favour of a WADA appeal and that meant the players were found guilty of doping.
“You cannot agree to the rules and then expect them to change if you don’t like the outcome,” McDevitt said on Wednesday in a statement.
McDevitt added he was pleased the anti-doping process related to the long-running Essendon supplements debacle was over.
“I am proud of ASADA’s persistence in pursuing this case until the truth was revealed,” he said.
Dyson Heppell, who could be Essendon’s captain, said the Swiss verdict came as no surprise.
Like Watson and 15 other players still on AFL lists, Heppell had to sit out this season because of the doping ban.
“I prepared myself mentally, probably 12 months ago, so for me it doesn’t really change too much,” Heppell said.
“We were never getting our 2016 back anyway.
“It’s a real bit of closure, I think.”
In May, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said the league was dreading the Watson Brownlow decision.