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Identity of Essendon players safe - for now

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Essendon unsuccessful in injunction bid

Essendon fails in injunction bid as the Bomber's lawyers face off with ASADA in the Federal Court.

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The hearing, as it happened

Blockbuster Friday morning battle

Lawyers for Essendon and James Hird have faced off with ASADA in the Federal Court, with the club unsuccessfully arguing for an injunction that puts the doping investigation on hold.

Essendon Chairman Paul Little arrives at the Federal Court hearing.

Essendon Chairman Paul Little arrives at the Federal Court hearing. Photo: Wayne Taylor

A three-day trial has been set for August 11.

Neil Young QC, for Essendon, told Justice John Middleton the threat of the 34 players having to respond to show cause notices before the trial was "oppressive".

He said ASADA had only offered an "ad hoc" measure that would ensure players were not asked to respond before June 30, and would be given 14 days to do so.

"There is no need for that sort of trigger to exist, there is no need for that type of pressure and uncertainty to be applied," Mr Young said.

Tom Howe QC, for ASADA, said Mr Young's application was very weak, but acknowledged it was desirable for the matter to proceed to trial without any further developments. He argued that an injunction would undermine the statutory authority of ASADA's chief executive, Ben McDevitt.

Justice Middleton said he would not issue an injunction but would be very disappointed if the "status quo" was not maintained by ASADA before the trial date.

Hird and McDevitt were not in court on Friday, but Essendon chairman Paul Little and chief operating officer Xavier Campbell were seated in a packed public gallery.

Mr Howe was expected to make an application to have the 34 players added as a party in the case, along with Essendon and Hird, but he said ASADA had not yet determined whether this would be necessary.

Mr Young and David Grace QC, who is acting for the players, said adding the players would be opposed. Adding the players as a party would likely mean they would be named.

"The players have no desire to be joined, they seek to avoid the expense and the stress," Mr Grace said.

"They are very sensitive to the issue of anonymity."

Justice Middleton encouraged the parties to find a resolution but said he believed the players should remain close to the case.

"I believe the players should have a close involvement in this case so they have the full opportunity to address this court," he said.

"Individually or as a group."

Justice Middleton will decide in a hearing on Wednesday whether the players will be included as a party and which documents from ASADA will be provided to Essendon and Hird.

The documents sought include communications between the AFL and ASADA relating to the investigation and the preparation of ASADA's interim report.

He encouraged the parties to conference before the next hearing to ensure any other "festering" issues could also be resolved before the trial.

Nick Harrington, for Hird, said the suspended coach would return to Australia from France on July 28 "because of study commitments".

He indicated that the AFL's manager of integrity services, Brett Clothier, would be subpoenaed to give evidence and provide documents relating to the league's relationship with ASADA.

Essendon chairman Paul Little said outside court that he welcomed the decision that fixed an early trial date and Justice Middleton's comments discouraging ASADA from further pursuing the 34 players.

"The judge made it clear the court would be very disappointed if ASADA undertook any action that would disrupt the status quo before the trial."

Mr Little declined to answer questions.

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