Michael Lipman, Alex Crockett and Andrew Higgins have each been suspended for nine months after being found guilty of missing two drugs tests, the Rugby Football Union has announced.
The RFU’s disciplinary panel, chaired by Judge Jeff Blackett, are understood to have dropped charges of drug-taking at the outset of the four-day hearing in London.
But the three players were ruled to have failed on two separate occasions to provide drug tests after an end-of-season celebration in London because “they believed there was a risk of positive results”.
The suspension - reduced from 15 months because of the players’ good character and the panel’s perception of the legal advice which they took - has been back-dated to start on June 1, the day all three terminated their contracts with Bath.
The judgement concluded: “The RFU disciplinary panel today takes no pleasure in imposing its sanction as the players involved are decent young men.
“There are good policy reasons why those who fail to take tests and those who give positive tests should receive the same sanction. There is also a need for a strong deterrent in this sanction.
“The starting point is therefore a 15-month suspension and this has been reduced because of good character and concerns about the advice they received.
“Therefore, the sanction is a nine-month suspension from playing, effective June 1, the date they resigned from Bath Rugby.”
The players have 14 days to appeal.