AFL coach maintains innocence in doping saga

JUSTIN CHADWICK
Last updated 10:36 13/04/2013
James Hird
Getty Images
HORRIFYING ALLEGATIONS: Essendon coach James Hird has been accused of injecting players with banned substances.

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Essendon coach James Hird effectively declared his innocence over the supplements saga engulfing the club, saying he'll be in a "very good position" once the truth comes out.

Hird has come under increasing pressure to step aside after fresh allegations emerged over the bizarre concoctions of supplements his players had been administered under former Essendon sports scientist Stephen Dank.

Dank also revealed Hird had taken a WADA-blacklisted drug, and that Hird was well aware of the supplements program the players were on.

Despite the ongoing saga, Essendon dug deep to post a pulsating four-point victory over Fremantle in Perth on Friday night, keeping their unbeaten start to the season alive.

The Bombers trailed by 36 points at half-time, but booted nine goals to two after the long break to secure the 10.12 (72) to 9.14 (68) triumph.

After the match, Hird choked up when answering questions about the supplements drama enveloping both him and the club.

Hird will meet with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority next week, but declared he wouldn't stand down in the meantime.

"People say things and they're untrue," Hird said.

"And (when) you know you've got truth on your side, you go hard. And when you get your opportunity, you tell the whole truth.

"And when the truth comes out, I think I'll be in a very, very good position, and so will this football club.

"I'm the coach of the Essendon football club.

"Until someone tells me I'm not, then I'm the coach of the Essendon football club."

Bombers skipper Jobe Watson said the playing group were doing their best to support Hird through his tough time.

Hird described the support as "amazing".

"They are incredible people," Hird said.

"They won't leave me to have a second on my own to have my own thoughts.

"I like to feel I've supported them through a lot of times, and the support they've given me is outstanding."

Aside from the off-field drama, Essendon have a number of concerns heading into next Saturday's clash with St Kilda at Etihad Stadium, with forward Michael Hurley the biggest worry.

Hurley injured his right wrist late in Friday's game, but Hird was confident the spearhead hadn't suffered a break.

"He had it operated on last year. It got stuck under him and there's some scar tissue which I think he's just broken up."

Veteran defender Dustin Fletcher will be monitored over the next week after tweaking his groin.

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Ruckman Paddy Ryder is facing a suspension after his heavy hit on Luke McPharlin, while Nick Kommer's late shepherd on Kepler Bradley is also set to be scrutinised by the match review panel.

- AAP

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