fears have been realised with the Court of Arbitration for Sport finding 34 past and present players guilty of taking banned substance Thymosin Beta-4 and suspending them for the entire 2016 season.
Twelve players still on the Bombers' list and five now at other AFL clubs who took part in Essendon's 2012 supplements program have been hit with two-year bans beginning on March 31 last year.
However, most of the suspensions will come to an end on November 13 this year, taking into account provisional suspensions already served.
Bombers skipper Jobe Watson, vice-captain Dyson Heppell, reigning club champion Cale Hooker, Michael Hurley, Tom Bellchambers, Heath Hocking, Travis Colyer, Michael Hibberd, Ben Howlett, David Myers, Brent Stanton and Tayte Pears will all miss the Bombers' 2016 campaign.
The guilty decision impacts four other AFL clubs with former Essendon players on their lists, with Jake Carlisle (St Kilda), Stewart Crameri (Western Bulldogs), Jake Melksham (Melbourne), Angus Monfries and Patrick Ryder (Port Adelaide) to be sidelined for the season.
Former Essendon players Mark McVeigh and Brent Prismall are set to be suspended from their respective roles at Greater Western Sydney and the Western Bulldogs until November 13 as support staff are banned from any WADA-complaint sports under the sanctions.
McVeigh is an assistant coach at the Giants, while Prismall is a player wellbeing and welfare manager with the Bulldogs.
Essendon champion and former club coach James Hird slammed the guilty verdict and suspensions.
"I am shocked by this decision," Hird said in a statement.
"I firmly believe the players do not deserve this finding.
"They do not deserve to face a twelve-month suspension from the sport. This is a miscarriage of justice for 34 young men."