Banned AFL star dreading start of season

Banned Essendon star Dyson Heppell admits it will be tough to watch the team’s round-one AFL match against Gold Coast.

Heppell is among 17 current players – 12 at Essendon – who will serve doping suspensions this year related to the Bombers’ supplements debacle.

The star midfielder spoke at length publicly for the first time on Monday night since the CAS verdict earlier this year.

That decision upheld WADA’s appeal and went against 34 current and past Essendon players, Heppell among them.

Heppell told AFL360 he feels a great sense of injustice against the club and is adamant the banned players did nothing wrong.

The 34 players are making a last-ditch appeal to a Swiss court.

More immediately, Heppell said he intended to attend Essendon matches this season.

The Bombers will open their season this Saturday against the Suns on the Gold Coast.

“It will probably be a tough one, I reckon, on Saturday night,” Heppell said.

“It was hard throughout the NAB (Challenge), watching the boys.

“I can’t imagine it will be very easy, round one, when the real shebang is happening.

“I’m certainly going to watch and support the boys throughout the year, but it will be tough.”

Heppell added he is determined to gain something from his enforced break.

“Ultimately, I’m not going to be defined by it,” he said.

“This year, it will be tough … (but) the next 10 years of my footy career will define me, but not this year.”

Heppell said his issue is not with the anti-doping system, but the club.

He remains adamant the banned players have done nothing wrong.

“Embarrassed and ashamed, no, but I do feel angry,” Heppell said.

“I feel let down and probably an overwhelming sense of injustice towards the club, a number of people who were at the club at the time and the investigation.”

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