The day the AFL has been dreading will soon arrive, with the way now clear for the league’s commission to rule on Jobe Watson’s Brownlow Medal.
The league had postponed the commission hearing until a last-ditch appeal by 34 past and present Essendon players was heard in the Swiss legal system.
It emerged on Tuesday night that the appeal against their doping bans was unsuccessful.
Watson is one of the players found guilty and with their last legal avenue exhausted, the speculation is that the commission will take the unprecedented step of stripping the 2012 Brownlow from him.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said back in May that no-one involved was looking forward to the decision on Watson’s medal.
“Everyone involved, if they had to make that decision, would dread it,” McLachlan told AFL360.
“I think the people charged with the responsibility of making that decision will not have made a more difficult decision – not just in their time in football, but almost in their lives,” he said.
“I don’t want to over-dramatise it, but that will be as hard a decision as anyone on the commission has had to make, I’m sure of it.”
Watson will be invited to speak to the commission.
Essendon officials have said think Watson should keep the Brownlow.
Allan Hird, the father of former Essendon coach James Hird, also wrote to the AFL earlier this year in support of Watson keeping the medal.
Meanwhile, Essendon chairman Lindsay Tanner released a statement on Tuesday night after the Swiss verdict was handed down.
“It is obviously disappointing for our players. The club respected and supported the players decision to exercise the only legal right to appeal they had in this process,” Tanner said.
“We maintain our view that the decision and penalty handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport was manifestly unfair on our players.”
The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld a WADA appeal in January, meaning the players had to serve doping bans.