INFRACTION notices could be issued to 34 past and present Essendon players within days after the Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel formally put them on its register of findings.
It follows a decision by the bulk of the players not to respond to ASADA's show-cause notices that alleges they used the banned peptide Thymosin beta-4 during the 2012 season.
The ADRVP's decision now puts the case in the AFL's hands. The decision to issue infraction notices now rests with AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon, who technically must be satisfied there is enough evidence to proceed.
If infraction notices are issued the players will then finally get the opportunity to plead their case before the AFL's Anti-Doping Tribunal.
It's hoped a Tribunal, chaired by former County Court judge David Jones, could be convened before Christmas.
The AFL Players' Association confirmed that players' legal representatives had been informed of the latest development.
“The determination from the Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel was an anticipated outcome and we are pleased that we are a step closer to having this matter finalised," AFLPA chief executive Paul Marsh said.
“We now await the AFL’s decision as to whether or not they'll issue infraction notices.
"We hope this decision is made quickly so the process can keep moving.”
Earlier this week Essendon coach James Hird spent a day and a half in the Federal Court, appealing a ruling that ASADA's investigation into the supplements scandal was lawful.
Justices Susan Kenny, Tony Besanko and Richard White have reserved their judgement.
On Wednesday the Bombers cut ties with Mark Thompson, who had stood in for Hird during his year-long suspension.
It remains to be seen what impact the outcome of the court appeal or the likely Tribunal process involving the players may have on Hird's position as senior coach.
He and club doctor Bruce Reid are the only key off-field figures remaining at the club since the supplements saga began in early 2013.
Players found guilty of taking performance-enhancing drugs face a maximum two-year suspension for a first offence.
On Thursday afternoon, the AFL confirmed it had been informed of the ADRVP's decision, but said it couldn't comment further under the requirements of its anti-doping code.