AUSTRALIAN sport was rocked on Tuesday after the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the World Anti-Doping Agency’s appeal against 34 past and present players of the Essendon Football Club.
The verdict will see those charged miss the entirety of the 2016 season.
It is an unwelcome reversal of fortunes for Essendon and their playing group, who were cleared of any wrongdoing relating to the banned substance Thymosin beta-4 by an independent Australian tribunal in March 2015.
But the CAS panel was “comfortably satisfied” with evidence suggesting the 34 players had taken the drug in question, meanwhile determining they were all significantly at fault for breaking the WADA code.
The guilty parties will now serve mandatory two-year bans dated from March 31, 2015, although the CAS indicated most of the sentences would expire in November 2016 owing to the provisional suspensions served in early 2014.
The ruling will affect 17 current AFL players across five clubs, including former Bombers men Jake Carlisle (St. Kilda), Jake Melksham (Melbourne), Stewart Crameri (Western Bulldogs), Patrick Ryder and Angus Monfries (both Port Adelaide).
There could be further ramifications for Essendon captain Jobe Watson, who won the Brownlow Medal during the 2012 season when the Bombers’ controversial supplements program was still in effect.
There is also a very real chance the banned players will pursue legal action against Essendon and the Australian Football League itself.
To cover the suspended players, the Bombers will be allowed to upgrade five rookies and make 10 new signings for the 2016 season.
How the CAS ruling has affected 2016 Essendon AFL betting
With a huge portion of their senior squad now unavailable for the entire season, Essendon’s outright odds for the 2016 AFL Premiership season have taken an almighty battering.
After being well liked for a top-eight finish in the early betting, the Bombers are now rank $1001 outsiders to win the flag at Sportsbet.com.
They are also paying a hefty $501 to make the top four and $51 to reach the finals.
Over at the TAB, the Dons have plummeted from $6 to $1.15 to have the most losses of any team in 2016.
They were paying $9 only two weeks ago.
As such, it’s not at all surprising John Worsfold’s embattled side are tipped to win only one ($2.25) or two ($3.25) games in AFL 2016.
To win the the flag – $1001
Minor Premiership – $1001
To reach the AFL Grand Final – $501
Top four – $251
Top eight – $26
No Essendon wins – $7
Exactly one win – $2.25
Exactly two wins – $3.25
Exactly three wins – $6
Four wins or more – $11
Essendon (+30) – $101
Essendon – $1.15
Odds provided by TAB
What’s changed for Melbourne, Port Adelaide, St. Kilda and Western Bulldogs?
Of course, Essendon aren’t the only mob affected by this landmark doping verdict.
Port Adelaide have long known they could be deprived of Paddy Ryder and Angus Monfries, the latter of whom left Windy Hill before the supplements scandal broke in early 2013.
Western Bulldogs won’t be able to call upon key forward Stewart Crameri – one of their highest-paid players.
Also caught in the crossfire is Bulldogs VFL star and club welfare co-ordinator Brent Prismall, who played 36 AFL games for Essendon between 2009 and 2012.
Yet the bookmakers haven’t budged on either the Power ($11 at Sportsbet.com) or the Dogs ($21 at WilliamHill.com) in the outright betting for AFL 2016.
Both remain strong contenders for the top four: Port Adelaide are paying $2.50 at Sportsbet, while the Bulldogs are $5.50.
It’s a slightly different scenario with St. Kilda and Melbourne.
Jake Carlisle was a marquee signing for the Saints in the last trade period, and his absence will leave an enormous hole in their key position stocks.
Indeed, St. Kilda have gone out to $201 from their starting price of $101 in the AFL Premiership markets at CrownBet.com, where they are also paying $41 to make the top four.
Likewise, the Demons – who will be without their new midfield recruit, Jake Melksham – are pegged at $201 to win the flag and $51 to finish in the top four.
Sportsbet Justice Refund on 2016 Bombers markets
Sportsbet.com.au is offering a full refund on Essendon-related bets affected by the CAS verdict.
This includes the early markets for the Bombers’ round one clash with Gold Coast Suns, as well as AFL futures betting for the flag, the top four, the top eight, the Brownlow Medal, the Coleman Medal and All Australian selection.
The refund applies to single and cash wagers only, and does not cover bets which have already been cashed out.
The affected markets for Sportsbet refund include:
Essendon vs. Gold Coast, round one
– Essendon to defeat Gold Coast
– Essendon by 1-39 points
– Essendon by 40+ points
– Essendon line betting
AFL team futures
– Essendon to win the flag
– Essendon AFL quinellas
– Essendon to win the Minor Premiership
– Essendon to finish top four
– Essendon to finish top eight
– Essendon last team to lose
– Essendon to win first three games
– Essendon to win first four games
– Season wins (over)
Brownlow Medal betting
– Dyson Heppell to win
– Jobe Watson to win
– Michael Hurley to win
– Patrick Ryder to win
– David Myers for most Essendon votes
– Heppell for most Essendon votes
– Watson for most Essendon votes
Coleman Medal markets
– Cale Hooker to win
– Jake Carlisle to win
– Hooker for top Essendon goal-kicker
All Australian futures
– Heppell to win AA selection
– Hooker to win AA selection
– Hurley to win AA selection
Full list of past and present suspended players
Current Essendon players
– Tom Bellchambers
– Travis Colyer
– Dyson Heppell
– Michael Hibberd
– Heath Hocking
– Cale Hooker
– Ben Howlett
– Michael Hurley
– David Myers
– Tayte Pears
– Brent Stanton
– Jobe Watson
Players now at other AFL clubs
– Jake Carlisle (St. Kilda)
– Stewart Crameri (Western Bulldogs)
– Jake Melksham (Melbourne)
– Angus Monfries (Port Adelaide)
– Patrick Ryder (Port Adelaide)
Players now in lower-league football
– Alex Browne
– Luke Davis
– Alwyn Davey
– Cory Dell’Olio
– Ricky Dyson
– Scott Gumbleton
– Kyle Hardingham
– Leroy Jetta
– Brendan Lee
– Brent Prismall
– Ariel Steinberg
– Henry Slattery
Retired from football
– Dustin Fletcher
– David Hille
– Sam Lonergan
– Nathan Lovett-Murray
– Mark McVeigh