Essendon has confirmed that its players fighting ASADA infraction notices will not seek the AFL Commission's permission to play in the NAB Challenge.
It's estimated 17 or 18 players allegedly involved in the Bombers' controversial 2012 supplements regime remain on the club's list.
It remains unclear whether the additional players still on the list from that time, but not charged with possible doping offences, will join their teammates on the sidelines.
Essendon has 25 players remaining on its list who were at the club during 2012.
It means the fate of Essendon's scheduled NAB Challenge matches against St Kilda, Greater Western Sydney and Melbourne is still uncertain.
Essendon general manager of football operations Rob Kerr told the club's website said there was "ongoing dialogue" with the League.
“Those players who have been issued infraction notices have been provisionally suspended as we speak, so the issue they face is that if they were to play a NAB Challenge game it would impact upon their provisional suspension,” he said.
“The solution that the playing group themself has bought into has been made because everyone is mindful that under the anti-doping code there is an obligation to protect the identity of those players that have infraction notices.
ASADA confirmed on Wednesday that any players who played during their provisional suspension wouldn't be able to have their suspensions backdated if they were found guilty by the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal
"Our view is any athlete competing during their provisional suspension and prior to a final decision by a sport tribunal, has not respected their obligation under the World Anti-Doping Code and should not be entitled to a credit for the provisional suspension," an ASADA spokesperson said in a statement provided to AFL.com.au.
"The World Anti-Doping Code is very clear in this respect and our duty is to ensure sports comply with their responsibilities to the code."
Kerr was confident Bombers players would not face fines if they pulled out of the pre-season competition, even if they didn't have an infraction notice.
"The discussions we have had with the AFL has been about finding a solution that is going to work and there has been no tabling of 'if you couldn’t play, this is what the penalty would be'," he said.
The AFL has proposed the Bombers be able to top up their list with additional players, but Essendon remains reluctant to do that.
“The options are that we would have to find other players to supplement our list and when you factor in that there is 25 players on our list from 2012," Kerr said.
“When you look at some of the older players and the younger players who are not going to play a whole lot of time during the NAB Challenge, the number of players available is reduced significantly.
"By our estimation ... we're thinking you'd have to find in the vicinity of 15-20 [top-up] players to be able to compete."
The AFL Commission has discretion over whether players with infraction notices are allowed to play, and doesn't have to consult ASADA.