'I'm not shocked by anything in this investigation'
Essendon coach James Hird says there seems to be 'a lot of rumour and innuendo that has no fact to it' regarding the investigation into doping at the club.PT1M27S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2rbnz 620 349 August 6, 2013
Essendon coach James Hird has successfully prevailed on the AFL and the Bombers board in an agitated bid to receive a copy of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority report.
There are other serious questions at stake here regarding potential breaches of contractual legal and occupational health and safety obligations to the players.
But the Essendon players have not yet been briefed on the ASADA summary, despite equally determined efforts by the AFL Players Association to view the 400-page document.
Essendon coach James Hird has been given a copy of the report. Photo: Mal Fairclough
And AFLPA boss Matt Finnis has criticised the Bombers for narrowing their focus to the legality of drugs given to their footballers and not the crucial issue of player welfare.
The sensitivity surrounding the anti-doping agency's summarised report of evidence put forward by an estimated 130 witnesses has led to a complex series of legal disputes in recent days over who should and shouldn't be given access to the document.
The AFL received the report on Friday and a copy was delivered to the Bombers board on Sunday.
While Hird's legal team - he is now represented by Julian Burnside - is understood to have received a copy late on Tuesday, lawyers representing the majority of his assistant coaches and Essendon staff were still fighting for the right to read the report, concerned that Hird's team had been given preferential treatment.
Finnis remained hopeful infraction notices would not be delivered to Essendon's past or present players who took part in the drugs program of 2012, but pointed to other serious issues the AFLPA was determined to examine.
''Regardless of whether or not players receive infraction notices as a result of the investigation we have a very keen interest in the content of the report,'' Finnis said.
''There are other serious questions at stake here regarding potential breaches of contractual legal and occupational health and safety obligations to the players, which is something the club will try not to include in the broad parameters of what this investigation is all about.''
Of those Essendon staff still at the club, the roles played by Hird, football operations boss Danny Corcoran and club doctor Bruce Reid are understood to have been closely scrutinised by the joint investigation, which was launched after the club reported itself to the AFL and ASADA in February.
While there is no suggestion any of that trio sought to introduce banned drugs to the players, their management and failure to adequately ensure the players' safety has come under question.
Fairfax Media understands negotiations between the AFLPA and Essendon on Monday were at flashpoint, with the players' union deeply concerned the club was attempting to suppress the report. The prevailing view, denied by Essendon, was that the club was working in the belief that should its players escape punishment there was no need for the document to be tabled at all.
However, both Essendon and the AFL on Tuesday pointed to the ASADA Act and specifically section 4.21 relating to privacy provisions.
The concern was that private medical details revealed by players, coaches and staff would become public. At least six Essendon coaches and staffers, along with Hird, have admitted to being injected by Stephen Dank, although Hird has repeatedly denied being treated with the banned drug Hexarelin.
ASADA has stressed it is an interim report as it continues to navigate the legal complexities.