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Essendon players cleared to play this weekend

All 34 past and present Essendon players have been found not guilty by the anti-doping tribunal.

It’s not yet clear who – if anyone – will appeal the decision.

FULL STATEMENT FROM DAVID JONES, CHAIRMAN OF THE AFL ANTI-DOPING TRIBUNAL

The Tribunal today handed down its decision, which was unanimous, and reasons for the decision with respect to the alleged violation by 34 players of the AFL ANti-Doping Code.

The Tribunal was comfortably satisfied that the substance Thymossin Beta-4 was at the relevant time a prohibited substance under the Code.

The Tribunal was not comfortably satisfied that any player was administered Thymossin Beta-4.

The Tribunal was not comfortably satisfied that any player violated clause 11.2 of the Anti-Doping Code.

The Tribunal’s decision in relation to the violation under  the Code alleged against a former Essendon support person will be handed down at a later date, together with reasons for that decision.

The Tribunal’s decision and reasons have been provided to the parties in accordance with the function performed by the Tribunal. That function does not include the provision of teh decision and reasons to other persons. 

Any publication of the Tribunal’s decision and reasons is a matter for the parties.

Sam McClure at Essendon’s Tullamarine headquarters: "No official news from the club out here at Tullamarine. Waiting for confirmation that they’re players have been cleared. No one has come in or out of the club since 2pm."

3AW sports reporter Shane McInnes joined Denis Walter live from AFL House for the verdict as the news broke.

"There is a lot of surprise down here at AFL house," he said.

"Reports coming through all 34 Essendon players have been found not guilty, that means they are free to play in the AFL this weekend against Sydney.

"And now the ball goes into the court of ASADA and WADA as to whether or not they challenge this decision by the AFL anti-doping tribunal."

11:50AM: Collingwood great Tony Shaw says he is saddened by the latest developments involving Magpie youngsters Thomas and Keeffe and is hoping for the best.

"But it doesn’t look good," he said on 3AW Mornings.

The 1990 premiership captain said he felt sorry for the Essendon playing group today ahead of their verdict but will be "be amazed" if they are found not guilty.

"I don’t think anybody has ever blamed the players for this, other than their stupidity at times without checking things," he told Neil Mitchell.

"We’ve always blamed the administration, the coaches and people involved in that.

"But I just cannot believe they come down with a not guilty verdict this afternoon."

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