Main content

AFL-ASADA investigation broke confidentiality and denied players their rights, James Hird alleges

Bombers Coach James Hird looks on during the 2013 AFL Round 22 match between the Carlton Blues and the Essendon Bombers at the MCG, Melbourne on August 24, 2013. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
James Hird has alleged ASADA broke its confidentiality obligations during its joint investigation with the AFL
JAMES Hird has alleged ASADA breached its confidentiality obligations by providing draft copies of its interim report to the AFL before it was formally lodged on August 2 last year. 

He also alleges ASADA's joint investigation with the AFL effectively gave the anti-doping body the power to compel Essendon players and officials to answer questions about the 2012 supplements program - a power Hird alleges ASADA does not possess under its legislation.

Hird has submitted a 19-page statement of claim in the Federal Court ahead of Wednesday's second directions hearing, revealing new details of his legal challenge against ASADA. 

The suspended Essendon coach claims ASADA provided copies of its interim report to members of the AFL executive, the AFL Commission and "other persons and entities" who were not permitted to receive information contained in the document. 

Hird asserts that ASADA acted in breach of the confidentiality obligations imposed on them by its Act and the National Anti-Doping Scheme. 

The Bombers and Hird are fighting to have the joint investigation scrapped and the 34 show-cause notices made void. 

The case is set for a three-day trial in the Federal Court starting August 11. 

Hird's case centres on the legality of the AFL-ASADA investigation and whether the anti-doping body had the power to compel answers from Essendon players and staff. 

He alleges his legal team questioned the investigation's validity before his own nine-hour interview in April last year, which was attended by ASADA and AFL representatives. 

Hird's lawyers allege the joint investigation allowed ASADA to compel Essendon players and staff to submit to the investigation and "attend a recorded interrogative interview", preventing them from exercising their common-law rights against self-incrimination.  

Their submission refers to the AFL's manager of integrity services, Brett Clothier, who wrote in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that the investigation had "allowed the exchange of information and sharing of expertise".

Former AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou is also referred to, having "affirmed the fact of a joint investigation and further stated that the AFL's resources and ability to compel people to give evidence had assisted the investigation".