ESSENDON great Matthew Lloyd has staunchly defended James Hird's right to keep his job as the Bombers coach prepares to confront anti-doping investigators on Tuesday.
Hird's role in the club's supplements saga and allegations from former Bombers sports scientist Stephen Dank that Hird injected a substance banned for players are set to be examined when he speaks to the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority on Tuesday.
Essendon is under investigation as part of ASADA's drugs in sport probe across the AFL and NRL.
Hird has resisted pressure to stand aside in the meantime, and led the Bombers to a stirring four-point victory over Fremantle on Friday night to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.
Lloyd, a former premiership teammate of Hird's, says the Bombers coach has every right to stay in his job while the investigation is under way.
"James Hird's been a sitting duck," Lloyd told the Nine Network's AFL Sunday Footy Show.
"He can't say anything because of the investigation (and) waiting to be interviewed.
"Everyone's having their say through media outlets. James Hird isn't allowed to say anything. He's got cameras queuing up for him. He just wants his say on Tuesday."
While saying if Hird was proven to have done something wrong, he should be punished, Lloyd was critical of comments by AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou that Hird should consider standing down while the ASADA investigation runs its course.
"If he's done the wrong thing, hang him out there. But the guy has not had an opportunity (to speak), yet we have the boss of our competition saying James Hird should step down," Lloyd said.
"James showed on Friday night what he can do - it's not affecting his coaching.
"Until he's (found) guilty, he should keep coaching."
Hird will be able to answer the allegations on Tuesday when ASADA interview him over the supplements program Essendon used under Dank - especially the extent of the coach's knowledge and involvement.
It is certain to mean another week of spotlight for the Bombers ahead of Saturday's clash with St Kilda at Etihad Stadium.
Essendon assistant coach and former Adelaide playing great Simon Goodwin was also implicated in the crisis on Saturday.
The ABC's 7.30 Report said Dank claimed Goodwin was also using the same substance Hird has been accused of injecting - hexarelin.
While it is a WADA blacklisted drug, growth hormone-releasing hexarelin is banned only for players, not coaches.