COLLINGWOOD young gun Jaidyn Stephenson has been hit with the most severe ban for betting on football in the game's history, but will be available to play in the Magpies' finals series.
The AFL announced on Wednesday Stephenson would serve a 10-match ban and have to pay a $20,000 fine after gambling on three games involving the Magpies.
The League's general counsel, Andrew Dillon, said Stephenson was given a 22-match ban, with 12 of those suspended for the rest of his career.
He couldn't explain it. He knew he was doing the wrong thing and he felt incredibly remorseful when he came to that conclusion
- AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon
It means he will miss the rest of the home and away season but will be back in time for the Pies' finals series. He can train with Collingwood while serving his ban but cannot play in the VFL.
WHO MAKES FINALS? Do the 2019 Ladder Predictor
Stephenson owned up to the bets on May 19, when he self-reported the three multi-bet wagers on three separate games to Collingwood football manager Geoff Walsh.
"All three were Collingwood matches that Stephenson played in. The matches in question were against the Western Bulldogs in round four, Essendon in round six and St Kilda in round nine," Dillon said.
Stephenson owned up to the actions the day after the Pies' win over the Saints at the MCG.
"The multi-bets over the three legs included bets on Collingwood to win, Collingwood winning margin, Stephenson to kick a goal, Stephenson to kick multiple goals, Collingwood teammates to kick a goal, Collingwood teammates to kick multiple goals and Collingwood teammates to have in excess of a number of disposals," Dillon said.
"The bet stakes totalled $36. All bets were unsuccessful."
On two of the occasions Stephenson gave cash to a friend to place the bets for him and on the other occasion the 20-year-old used the friend's betting account himself.
The AFL reviewed the games and also interviewed Stephenson's teammates, who were shocked at the second-year player's decisions, and the League's integrity department said "there was no evidence to suggest there was any intent to influence the outcomes within the contest".
Stephenson released a statement via the club, saying: "It was an incredibly naive thing to do.
"I'm embarrassed that I've let myself, my family, my teammates and our loyal fans down and I'm devastated that I won't be able to pull on a Collingwood jumper for the next 10 weeks.
"I can't change the past, but what's most important is what I do next."
Young forward Jaidyn Stephenson celebrates a goal. Picture: AFL Photos
Dillon said the fact Stephenson self-reported, along with his age, cooperation in the investigation, remorse and previous cases saw them arrive at the 10-game ban.
If he hadn't self-reported and been caught, Stephenson would have had to serve a full 22-game ban. The League didn't consider standing down Stephenson during the investigation, with the Pies playing three games since he came forward.
"He was clear. He knew that he was doing the wrong thing," Dillon said.
"He couldn't explain it. He knew he was doing the wrong thing and he felt incredibly remorseful when he came to that conclusion."
The exciting forward trained with the Magpies on Wednesday morning before the AFL announced the penalty.
He will front the media alongside club chief executive Mark Anderson and Walsh on Wednesday afternoon.
Stephenson kicks a goal against Melbourne during the Queen's Birthday clash. Picture: AFL Photos
Stephenson played all 26 games in his debut season last year, sparking the Pies' forward half and helping change the way they play, booting 38 goals en route to winning the NAB AFL Rising Star.
This season he has kicked 21 goals from 12 games, hitting the scoreboard in all bar two games.
Former Collingwood player Heath Shaw was the last player suspended for betting on an AFL match involving the Pies when he missed eight matches in 2011.
In 2015, current Pies defender Jack Crisp was fined $5000 when he placed a $129 multibet the previous season after he "forgot" players weren't allowed to bet on football.
More recently in 2017, Melbourne forward Jake Melksham was fined $10,000 for misleading AFL investigators during an inquiry into activity on his betting account.