Hird maintains club's innocence
Essendon legend James Hird blames the AFL for pushing the club to self reporting at the start of the supplements scandal.PT0M0S 620 349
Suspended coach James Hird has told a court he disagreed with public statements made by successive Essendon chairmen about the club's stance on the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority probe into the Bombers' supplements program.
Hird continued giving evidence on the second day of the Federal Court trial in Melbourne in which lawyers for the coach and Essendon are arguing that ASADA, as an independent body, unlawfully conducted a joint investigation with the AFL. ASADA maintains it was permitted to run a joint probe.
During his time in the witness box on Tuesday morning, Hird said he disagreed with public statements made by then Essendon chairman David Evans and Evans' successor, Paul Little, throughout 2013, but never said anything contrary in public.
James and Tania Hird arrive for day two of the Federal Court case. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
Hird also said he believed there was no evidence to suggest Essendon players had taken any prohibited supplements.
Hird said he disagreed with Essendon self-reporting to ASADA and that there were parts of the club's own investigation, conducted by consultant Ziggy Switkowski, that "weren't accurate".
When asked about five statements made by Evans in the first half of 2013, Hird said he had raised his concerns with the club's then chairman privately, but not publicly. He said that after one statement was made in February 2013, he told Evans he was "disagreeing with what was being said". The fallout between the two men continued on May 6, 2013, when Evans announced the findings of the Switkowski report.
"I was quite disappointed with David Evans on this day because I thought ... there were certain aspects of that report that I didn't believe were accurate," Hird said.
Hird told the court he also disagreed with what Little told players, club staff and supporters on October 2 last year, the night of Essendon's best and fairest count.
The court heard Little told the gathering that the board had decided earlier in the year the club had a problem and should report to ASADA. Hird told the court he disagreed with Little's comments but did not try to disassociate himself from them.
"It certainly wasn't the place to voice it ... at the best and fairest," he said. Hird said although he disagreed with some of the things Evans and Little had said publicly, he did not say anything in public to the contrary.
"At no time have I said something in public that I didn't believe to be the truth," he said.
Hird said after his interview with investigators, in April last year, he had told ASADA officials he would not comment on the investigation. He said in August last year, when the AFL imposed sanctions on Essendon and some staff members, he told Essendon he would not comment on the investigation.
Hird was suspended from coaching for one year.
He told the court he was present on the night of February 4 last year when Evans took a call from then AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou. Hird said Demetriou told Evans of the doping allegations against Essendon. Demetriou denies leaking this to Evans.
Hird told the court that on the next day, Gillon McLachlan, then the AFL's deputy chief executive and now the league boss, told Hird and Essendon officials of the allegations.
But Hird said club doctor Bruce Reid doubted the claims as he approved all the supplements the players used, and that he trusted Reid's view.
Asked what evidence Demetriou and McLachlan had at the time that Essendon was using prohibited supplements, Hird replied: "None."
The hearing continues before Justice John Middleton.