The University of Waterloo has suspended its football program for one year in response to a steroid scandal that has been dubbed "the most significant doping issue" in Canadian university sports history.

Bob Copeland, the school's director of athletics, confirmed the suspension via email Monday.

"We know that this will come as disappointing news to you," Copeland wrote to the football team. "We expect that you may have questions as a result of this decision and want you to know that you can contact us, your coaching staff, or counselling services at any time."

The suspension comes after Waterloo Warriors receiver Nathan Zettler was arrested for possession and trafficking of anabolic steroids.

The school then ordered the entire team to be tested, leading to nine potential anti-doping infractions. According to the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES), which conducted the tests, the infractions include four admissions of use, three positive tests and one refused test. The ninth case is under further investigation by police.

"There's no question that this has been an eye-opener," Marg McGregor, CEO of Canadian Interuniversity Sport, told reporters during a news conference Monday afternoon.

"The volume of positive tests is unprecedented in our history, so absolutely, it has given us pause to reflect and to take a good, hard look at what's in place."

McGregor called the scandal the "most significant doping issue in CIS history."

Later in the day, she told CTV News Channel that CCES does not consider the test results "an isolated incident unique to Waterloo."

"We need to really accelerate our efforts at testing… and we need to step up our education," she said. "It's up to us to get good information in their hands so they fully understand the health risks of using steroids."

The CCES said it is still waiting for the results from blood tests, which look for substances such as human growth hormone, also known as HGH.

"There's been a lot of tears over the last several days," Copeland said at the news conference.

"This has been a very measured decision by the university. We've discussed all of the pros and cons of doing this, and we felt, given the gravity of this issue, that this was just too important not to take this particular action."

The team's head coach Dennis McPhee and assistant Marshall Bingeman will be placed on paid leave as the university conducts its own investigation.

The CCES identified two players caught up in the scandal, including first-year linebacker Jordan Meredith, who tested positive for Tamoxifen.

The banned drug is used by athletes to protect against the side effects of steroids. Meredith admitted using Tamoxifen and has been suspended for two years.

Second-year linebacker Joe Surgenor confessed to using a steroid and will also be suspended for two years.

The CCES named the two players after they waived their right to a hearing. The identities of other players caught up in the scandal will for now remain confidential.

Some team members attended the Monday news conference to complain that they are being unfairly punished due to the actions of others, when they themselves are clean.

"The university said they dealt with it in a way that will set an example," said fourth-year wide receiver Dustin Zender. "Unfortunately, that example ruins some of the lives of our players here. And because of the actions made by some -- who weren't smart -- it now affects players who did the right thing."

With files from The Canadian Press