Michael Lipman, Alex Crockett and Andrew Higgins have been left "absolutely devastated" after being hit with nine-month bans for avoiding drug tests.
The former Bath players are considering whether to appeal against the suspension, imposed last night by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel after a four-day hearing in London.
The RFU dropped charges of cocaine use but found all three players had failed on two occasions to submit for a drugs test as Bath investigated allegations relating to an end-of-season celebration in London.
Solicitor Richard Mallett, acting on behalf of Lipman, Crockett and Higgins, said last night: “All three players are absolutely devastated by today’s result and that they have now been suspended from playing the game they love.
“We would like to emphasise that the charges against the players that they had actually taken cocaine were dismissed at the beginning of the proceedings.
“They are, of course, considering their position.”
The suspension - reduced from 15 months because of the players’ good character and their reliance on what the panel perceived to be poor legal advice - has been back-dated to start on June 1, the day all three terminated their contracts with Bath.
Lipman, Crockett and Higgins have 14 days to lodge an appeal.
Yesterday’s verdict takes to five the number of players from Bath to have been suspended for drug-related offences this year.
Matt Stevens was banned for two years in March for testing positive for cocaine and last month Justin Harrison admitted three charges, including taking the Class A drug.
Lipman, Crockett and Higgins argued Bath had no right under contract to force them into taking the drug tests but those claims were rejected.
Instead, Judge Jeff Blackett and the panel vindicated Bath’s decision to launch an investigation and questioned why the players would decline to take tests if they were clean.
Part of their decision read: “If the players had nothing to fear from taking a drugs test then they would have taken them.
“The reality of the case was that at the time when asked to take a drugs test they players believed there was a risk of positive results.
“This was either because they knew they had ingested drugs or they had drunk so much alcohol that they could not remember whether or not they had ingested drugs.
“Each of the players therefore decided to play for time, keep out of contact and then hide behind legal defence.”
The judgment also placed a significant amount of blame on the players’ legal advisors for the way they handled the situation after Bath manager Dave Guyan first launched the club’s investigation.