Former England captain Graham Gooch has said racism allegations surrounding Essex are "very distressing" and a "stain" on the club's history.
Essex were fined £50,000 earlier this month after pleading guilty to two charges relating to a racist comment made at a board meeting in 2017.
Three former players have also alleged they suffered racist abuse during their time at the club.
"I'm very sad about what's happened," Gooch told BBC Essex.
"The strength of Essex cricket has been to promote local talent in east London, Essex and East Anglia and the proudest moment for me was in 2017 and 2019 when we had eight local players in our team who won those County Championships, which is unheard of in modern sport.
"As someone who came to Essex in 1973, when I started playing as an amateur, and since 1986 when I became captain, I've been involved in the back room as well as on the field and been in cricket committee meetings, and I'm very sad."
Former Essex chairman John Faragher resigned in November following an allegation that he used racist language in a board meeting five years ago.
Faragher denied making the comment, but Essex pleaded guilty at an England and Wales Cricket Board discipline commission to two charges relating to the use of the comment and a failure to conduct an appropriate investigation.
Days later, former players Zoheb Sharif, Maurice Chambers and Jahid Ahmed came forward with their allegations of abuse.
Batter Sharif, who played for Essex between 2001 and 2004, said he was called 'Bomber' in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
Among the allegations made by Jamaica-born fast bowler Chambers during his decade at the club were being subjected to racist jokes and being told by a player to climb up the stairs for a banana after a team night out.
"I'm very saddened that a club with a great history has been stained with these dressing room culture allegations from the past and some other things in the boardroom," Gooch, who spent his entire 24-year playing career at Essex, told BBC Essex's Around the Wicket podcast.
"We've been a family club and a model for how we run things.
"We kept our head above water financially so to hear and see these things, and see the way they have been ripped apart behind the scenes is very distressing."
Following the panel's verdict, Essex said they will "continue to work with the ECB to eradicate discrimination from the game" and that they have "a zero-tolerance policy towards racism and any form of discrimination".
The ECB announced a five-point action plan in November to tackle racism and discrimination within cricket.
It was established in the aftermath of Azeem Rafiq's experiences of racism at Yorkshire during his time as a player at the club.
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