Former Essendon coach James Hird
Former Essendon coach James Hird Scott Barbour

James Hird breaks silence over Essendon doping bans

FORMER Essendon coach James Hird says there was never any intention of him or Stephen Dank to cheat the system after 34 players were banned for doping.

Hird told the ABC he had no overseeing role in the supplements program.

Earlier this week the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld an appeal by the World Anti-doping Authority against an AFL tribunal decision to clear the players of taking the banned substance thymosin-beta 4.

The players were suspended from the sport for 12 months.

"There was no experimental program that went on. It wasn't a pharmaceutical nature. There was no intention by anyone and Stephen Dank included in my belief, to cheat the system,'' Hird said.

Hird coached Essendon from 2010 until he stood down from his position late in the 2015 season.

He said the program had to be approved by former fitness coach Dean Robinson, but that protocols were broken which ultimately led to the players' bans.

"The idea around the program was that it was a healthy program for the players to become better footballers and look after them later in life so they didn't become old [with] arthritis like a lot of us have and the idea was everything had to be put by the doctor.

"The doctor had to approve everything. The reason the doctor had to approve everything was because he is the one that knows the most about medicine.

"At certain times, I believe the protocols weren't adhered to and that didn't happen. That was very disappointing.

"It is the reason that 34 young men are now in a position they are in. That is devastating for all of us and most of all devastating for those 34 men and their families."

Hird says the only person who knows what was in the injections given to players is sports scientist Stephen Dank, but he sees no reason why Dank would put illegal substances in the supplements.

"I don't see why he would do it? What would be the purpose for him to do it? It doesn't make any sense as to why he would do it."


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