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Eight burning questions about the Essendon 34

Nathan Schmook  January 12, 2016 7:02 PM

Footy Feed special: the Essendon verdict Matt Thompson wraps up one of the biggest days in the history of the AFL
AFL 2015 Rd 13 - Hawthorn v Essendon

Jobe Watson has been banned for the 2016 season and faces the prospect of losing his 2012 Brownlow Medal

• What the Dons' round one team could look like
• Timeline: Three years of turmoil for Essendon
• Where are the Essendon 34 now? 

Can the banned Essendon players be paid?
Essendon has made a commitment to pay the 12 players remaining on its list, but the exact terms of this will be negotiated with the AFL Players Association. The AFLPA suggested on Tuesday it was keen to reach a financial settlement for the players, rather than engage in a court battle. A settlement would likely include compensation for the players to account for damages to their careers, as well as contractual commitments.

Can they train with the club?
The 12 Essendon players are allowed to train together as a group, but not with the club – or under any supervision from coaches – until two months before their ban expires in November this year. The same applies for Jake Carlisle, Stewart Crameri, Jake Melksham, Angus Monfries and Patrick Ryder at their respective clubs. 

Can the affected clubs use top-up players in 2016?
Only Essendon. The Bombers have been granted the ability to sign up to 10 top-up players. The club will be given guidelines on the players they are able to sign. They will also be able to promote their five category-A rookies to their senior list immediately. It is possible they will also promote highly touted Irish category-B rookie Conor McKenna. The other affected clubs can promote rookies to replace their banned players. Port Adelaide has indicated it is keen to discuss the option of signing top-up players.    

Would the Bombers hold the No.1 pick at the 2017 NAB AFL Draft if they finish last this season?
Yes. The AFL will not sanction the Bombers further for their 2012 supplements program, having punished the club and its officials extensively in 2013. Th0se sanctions included significant draft penalties. The Bombers will participate in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft as normal, meaning a wooden spoon finish would give them the rights to pick No.1.     

What are the legal implications for Essendon?
AFLPA chief executive Paul Marsh suggested on Tuesday the Bombers were in a vulnerable position. "What they did at the time is nothing short of disgraceful and you can't escape that. The players are in this position because of the Essendon football club." The Bombers could face hefty payouts, but insurance agreements would protect the club from being financially crippled. 

Why is the AFL bound by the CAS decision?
The AFL is a WADA signatory and therefore must accept CAS's decision. The League, which previously operated under its own tailored testing regime, has expressed concerns about how the code is applied to team sports in the past. Withdrawing from the WADA code would, however, see government funds and support withdrawn from the game. Tuesday's decision sparked debate about the suitability of the WADA code to the AFL and the League said it invited that discussion. 

Penalty is 'manifestly unfair', says Essendon chairman

Why did the players receive the maximum two-year ban?
The players and clubs were surprised at the decision to ban them for two years, because there was a provision for CAS to reduce their penalties by 12 months because of a no fault or negligence provision. The AFL submitted this to CAS and said the players, if guilty, would have been the "unwilling and unwitting victim of the gross negligence of others". This was rejected by the panel, meaning maximum bans were handed out. The players received reductions for time already served under provisional suspensions, and for other considerations including procedural delays.   

Will Jobe Watson keep his Brownlow Medal?
The AFL Commission will convene in February to determine if Watson keeps his 2012 Brownlow Medal. The midfielder will be invited to address the Commission should he choose to present a case for keeping the award. Sam Mitchell and Trent Cotchin were joint runners up in 2012. "It is the AFL's view that due process must apply in this matter," CEO Gillon McLachlan said on Tuesday. Watson would become the first player in VFL/AFL history to be stripped of his medal.