James Hird has launched an appeal in the Federal Court over the Federal Court’s ruling on the ASADA/AFL investigation into the club.
Hird’s lawyers lodged the appeal at 10am on Thursday, with the former Essendon champion declaring he could not allow himself to accept the “lie” of a guilty plea.
“The short term simple approach would be to acquiesce and plead guilty to ASADA even though the players, the club and myself do not believe we have breached the rules,” Hird said in a statement.
“It would be a lie, as would pleading out of the proceedings when I, my lawyers and the Essendon Football Club lawyers firmly believe that the investigation was conducted unlawfully and an appeal will be successful.”
James Hird’s statement in full:
I have today lodged an appeal with the Federal Court against the decision of Justice Middleton in Hird v Asada. I have been advised and believe that there are strong reasons why that decision is incorrect and that this is the proper and appropriate course to vindicate the legal rights of the EFC and its players.
The challenge to the lawfulness of the joint investigation was and is an important step in showing that the Essendon Football Club, its players and staff were submitted to a compromised investigation and were treated unfairly. If we don’t appeal our players may be stained forever by the innuendo, misconceptions and falsities that resulted from an investigation that we believe was conducted unlawfully.
It is important that an investigation based on unlawfully gathered information never occurs again to any person, sporting club or organization.
ASADA plays an extremely important role in the fight against drugs in sport and must work within the Act under which it operates.
Throughout my playing career I vehemently opposed the use of performance enhancing drugs in sport. My stance as a coach has been and is exactly the same.
At no time in the 2012 season did I believe any Essendon player was exposed to any supplement or drug that fell outside the WADA, ASADA or AFL code. Two years since the end of that season I still do not believe any Essendon player took anything illegal. No one has shown me any evidence that would lead me to believe differently.
I am extremely sorry for the pain this saga has caused the players of the Essendon Football Club, their families, the Essendon Football Club staff, the Essendon Football Club supporters and the football industry as a whole.
I am requesting expedition of this appeal and will not ask for a stay of the notices. The players and ASADA will be able to continue with the show cause process whilst a full court deals with the legality of the investigation.
I have not taken this decision lightly. I believe this is the right course or action and is in the best interests of the Essendon Football Club, its players, the supporters and the game.
The short term simple approach would be to acquiesce and plead guilty to ASADA even though the players, the club and myself do not believe we have breached the rules. It would be a lie as would pleading out of the proceedings when I, my lawyers and the Essendon Football Club lawyers firmly believe that the investigation was conducted unlawfully and an appeal will be successful.