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Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Essendon's preseason campaign could be non-existent with up to 18 players on provisional suspensions while the Anti-Doping hearings continue. The Bombers' first NAB Cup game is scheduled for March 7 but the case may not be concluded for several weeks after that. If found guilty, the players could have their sanctions backdated to their last game in September 2014. The club has been in talks with the AFL, which has the power to lift those suspensions to allow the players to compete. Essendon chairman Paul Little said it was unclear whether or not such a move would impact the ability of a player to use this time against a potential sanction in the event of a guilty verdict. He said the club continues to work with "all relevant parties" to clarify the situation and reach a "satisfactory outcome for our players as quickly as possible.”

The Herald Sun reported that the Essendon players could boycott preseason games if the AFL refused to backdate their suspensions. CEO Xavier Campbell said the club's priority was to prepare the players for the upcoming season and ensure that objective was not compromised. Should any or all of the players be found guilty, sanction hearings would most likely take place just before the season proper begins.


Article last changed on Wednesday, February 04, 2015 - 10:44 AM EST

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