AN EMOTIONAL James Hird has launched an extraordinary defence of both himself and his embattled club against "hurtful" and "damaging" innuendo.
On a day former coach Kevin Sheedy expressed his amazement the Bombers have stayed strong when "most other clubs …would've fallen apart by now", Hird hit back at the latest allegations reported by Fairfax Media journalist Caroline Wilson.
Wilson also reported that in late 2011, Hird ignored a warning from the AFL to keep his players away from peptides.
On Wednesday evening, the Bombers issued a statement that rebutted these allegations.
When asked about these reports, Hird spoke at length on the topic.
"[Over] the past five months, there's obviously been some truth put out there, but the constant innuendo, rhetoric, half-truths and probably lies that have been spun about the club, the players, the great people that work here, and the half-truths, rhetoric and lies that have been spun about myself, are very hurtful and very damaging," he said.
"It's very hard when you keep looking at the hurtful and damaging nature of those comments. It's hard when you can’t respond, either. It's hard when you want to talk about the facts, when you want to explain to people what has happened here [and] try and find out the truth. But the club is committed to a process.
"I would say to people out there... that if you are sitting in judgment and you've made your judgment, please wait until the facts are on the table because the facts will come out very soon.
"And to my peers, to the players of other clubs, to the people at other clubs, if you can reserve your judgment until all facts are on the table, and we get a chance to see the report [and] put our version of events across, that would be much appreciated.
"I think that there's no person out there more than myself that wants the truth, that is trying to find the truth, that wants that out on the table.
"I understand this is a very serious issue and we want to make sure that the issue is dealt with properly, and we want it out there as soon as we can.
"And if you’re an Essendon supporter, Essendon member, from the players and from myself, we thank you so much for everything … the way you've supported us so far, because you've given us a lot of strength through a time that's been very, very difficult."
Asked if the latest allegations had been the breaking point after months of intense speculation, Hird said, "I don’t think there's a breaking point; I think it's just the club defending itself
Sheedy will coach against the Bombers for the final time on Saturday when they travel to Skoda Stadium to take on Greater Western Sydney.
The man who coached at Windy Hill for 27 years, is staggered the club has withstood such incredible scrutiny to sit third on the AFL ladder.
"Absolutely," Sheedy said when asked if he was surprised how well his old club has done.
"They're an amazing bunch of players, no doubt about that.
"Full credit to them because let's face it, they're up there and most other clubs I reckon probably would've fallen apart by now."