BANNED Essendon players will be free to sit in the stands at Metricon Stadium when the depleted Bombers take on Gold Coast in Round 1 of the season.
But the players will be strictly barred from entering the Bombers’ changerooms on March 26 — and will be in breach of their ban is they put a foot inside.
Under strict World Anti-Doping Agency rules any violation would effectively take their 2016 season ban back to day one.
The 12 players still on the Essendon list cannot enter the club’s Tullamarine HQ and there can be no contact with coaches, club staff or players about their preparation or training while in forced exile.
But all 34 players hit by Tuesday’s bombshell can attend football games as a spectator.
In terms of training regimens, the club is not allowed to guide the players in any way.
“Coaches and fitness staff can’t prepare anything … they can’t run any type of training session,” an AFL spokesman said yesterday.
“If the player goes and trains by himself, prepares his own or the group of banned players all met (and trained) they can do that, but they cannot have any direction from coaching staff or club staff.”
Players could be granted AFL media accreditation and work on match day.
It’s understood Channel 7 will look strongly at recruiting Essendon captain Jobe Watson, whose father Tim is a key member of the network’s AFL commentary team.
“The impact of the news from yesterday’s verdict is only just beginning to sink in,” a Channel 7 spokesman said.
“It’s way too early for any decisions to be made.”
Asked about the prospect of Watson joining Fox Footy, a Fox Sports spokesman said: “It’s something that we haven’t ruled out but would need to put some more thought into.”
Players at Essendon and the other AFL clubs affected are expected to be cautioned about contact with team personnel, with the cost of a breach of suspension high.
The AFL Anti-Doping Code states any violation of the code would mean “a new period of ineligibility equal in length to the original period of ineligibility shall be added to the end of the original period of ineligibility”.
The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority clarified the contact rule.
“Broadly, the conditions and rules for banned players can be complex and is often dependent on the circumstances,” an ASADA spokesman told the Herald Sun.
“There is nothing banning sanctioned athletes from seeing or talking to anyone in a social capacity.”
The banned 34 players, including five at Port Adelaide, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs and Melbourne, can officially return to training with their teams two months before their bans expires.
For most, that would mean a return to the club from mid-September.
But players at clubs out of the finals will be on mandated holidays then, so the effective return date is day one of pre-season training.
— but given Essendon will almost certainly be out of the finals for clubs out of the finals .
St Kilda recruit Jake Carlisle is not permitted to train at his new club or under its guidance, but Saints chief executive Matt Finnis seemed not to be aware of this yesterday.
“We are still dealing with the AFL, but Jake will definitely have a program that will have him ready for pre-season ‘17,” he said on Twitter.
DONS AND DON’TS
Restrictions and approved behaviour for the banned Essendon 34 in season 2016
Attend AFL and other football games
Talk to players and coaches from their teams on a social level
Train away from their clubs with other banned players
Work in the media at AFL games
Play football at any organised level
Enter club rooms at grounds on match day
Enter their club’s premises
Train under club-devised programs
Originally published as What banned players can and can’t do