AFL

Essendon supplements saga: Civil action by 'Essendon 34' likely, says player agent

AFL player agent Peter Jess says the 34 Essendon players embroiled for almost three years in the supplements saga have suffered "immeasurable psychological impact", and civil action could be launched promptly.

The players, of whom a dozen are still at the club, will learn their immediate fate early on Tuesday morning when the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland rules on whether they were administered the banned drug thymosin beta 4 during the club's 2012 supplements program.

Timeline: Essendon supplements scandal

Recap the significant events detailing the Essendon Bombers supplements scandal.

If found guilty, they face suspensions of up to two years, although a successful "no significant fault" claim and other considerations could reduce any bans significantly.

The World Anti-Doping Agency had appealed the AFL's anti-doping tribunal ruling in March last year, the latter clearing the players of taking the peptide as part of a program run by Stephen Dank.

The 34 former and current Essendon players
The 34 former and current Essendon players Photo: Pat Scala

The three-man CAS panel, chaired by British Queen's Counsel Michael Beloff, held the hearing in Sydney in November, at which seven former and current Essendon players were called to give evidence. There was a general feeling of pessimism among some linked to the players after the hearing, with the three-man panel reportedly troubled by some of the answers given.

Several of the 34 players are expected to gather as a group on Tuesday while awaiting the verdict, while others, such as Nathan Lovett-Murray and Cory Dell'Olio, are expected to join via phone hook-up.

Jess said careers had been ruined as a result of the injecting program he believes the AFL and the Bombers did not do enough to prevent or stop.

"My discussion with players is that this saga has had an immeasurable impact psychologically, which ultimately manifests itself as a physical outcome. They have been performing at less than their peak since this started," Jess said on Monday.

Court to hand down Bombers decision

The 34 past and present Essendon players awaiting the results of WADA's appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport will learn their fate on Tuesday. (Vision courtesy ABC News 24)

"This whole process has run a life of its own and hasn't been handled very well. The fact that we are three years on and one player [Hal Hunter] has gone to the Supreme Court to find what he was given and still doesn't have a clear answer of what he was injected with ... the troubling aspect was the drugs were sourced in China without any independent provenance as to what they were and if they were safe to take.

"My strong view is that there has been a failure of duty of care and, as a consequence of that, I am sure there will be court action.

"We now know the club has failed the players and Worksafe Victoria said it wasn't a safe workplace. That was a joint responsibility of the club and the AFL."

If the players are found guilty by the independent arbitrators and suspended, other player managers have indicated they would join in court action against the Bombers and possibly the AFL. Hunter has taken action despite not being one of the 34.

The Bombers have overhauled all areas of the club, including making significant governance changes, since they self-reported to the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority in February 2013.

"My view is that the players are the victims," Jess said.

"There are some nervous boys."

The Bombers have repeatedly maintained their confidence the players will not be suspended. They had served a provisional 4½-month suspension in 2014-15.

The closure of official hearings into the supplements case should mean the AFL will be free to soon release its internal review detailing how it handled the case. The decision to partner with ASADA in a joint investigation remains a point of angst with former Essendon coach James Hird.

If there are suspensions, the Bombers will again be allowed to seek top-up players from second-tier competitions, as was the case last year.