AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has confirmed there is no suggestion that the charged Essendon players had any knowledge of alleged doping.
But the league's chief executive also concedes that does not give them a defence under strict anti-doping rules.
Next Tuesday, the AFL anti-doping tribunal will hand down verdicts on the 34 past and current Essendon players.
The tribunal will deliver its decision from 2pm in a closed hearing at AFL House.
"I really feel for the players and our priority here is their health and wellbeing," McLachlan told 3AW.
"Whatever the tribunal finds, I haven't seen one bit of evidence that says in any way, whatever was injected into those players, that they had any knowledge that it may have been anything other than legal and appropriate."
McLachlan said he had read the majority of the evidence from the anti-doping tribunal hearings and the closing submissions.
"ASADA has never alleged the players actually had any knowing part in whatever happened," he said.
But he also admitted that will not save the players if the tribunal finds that anti-doping offences took place during Essendon's controversial 2012 supplements program.
"It's not a defence under the code," he said.
When asked if the players' ignorance should mean they are let off, McLachlan replied: "I'm not going to get into all that - we need resolution."
While there are various avenues of appeal, whatever the verdicts, McLachlan hopes the saga will soon end.
"Everyone wants an end to this - it's gone far too long and we just need a resolution," he said.
If any players are found guilty, the tribunal will have to sit again to decide on penalties.
"It will be complicated and again it will be a frustrating process if that's what the decision is," he said.
Next Tuesday's verdicts will come only two days before the season starts.
"If there was any ever doubt, I think it shows the independence of the tribunal," McLachlan said of the timing.
"It's a challenging date - it's been a challenging process, a challenging issue."