Essendon Bombers players in the clear after drug verdict

ESSENDON coach James Hird (pictured) will be able to play a full-strength team for the season opener with Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Saturday after the AFL's Anti-Doping Tribunal cleared 34 of its past and present players of taking a banned substance.

Eighteen players still on the Bombers list had been provisionally suspended from the NAB Challenge but are now free to play the Swans.

Port Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs were also boosted by the decision.

Former Bombers Paddy Ryder and Angus Monfries are free to play Fremantle at Domain Stadium on Sunday, while Stuart Crameri can line up against West Coast on Saturday night at Etihad Stadium.

In a statement, the tribunal said it was "not comfortably satisfied" that the players had been administered Thymosin Beta-4 or that they had violated the AFL's anti-doping code.

ASADA and WADA has 21 days to submit an appeal and tribunal chairman David Jones, along with panel members - former County Court judge John Nixon and ex-player Wayne Henwood - have not yet released the reasons behind their judgement and are not likely to do so until the appeal period has run.



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