James Hird, Essendon and the CAS judgment

Figured I’d better read the CAS judgment in order to have an informed view about it, Hird and Essendon. What follows assumes some knowledge of the history.

Some general observations:

1. The flavour generated by the panel’s observations is that Robinson, Dank and Hird were motivated by a desire to gain every competitive advantage available. The panel doesn’t say this, but it might be inferred that (club doctor) Reid was consciously excluded by/from this trio because he was causing trouble.

2. The “no significant fault or negligence” considerations relate solely to penalty. The only relevant considerations in this context are those explaining the departure from the expected standards. (i.e. loss of livelihood, imminent retirement and the like are not relevant).

3. The majority of the panel was comfortably satisfied that all players violated the code and that all were significantly at fault in doing so, in that all the players, on at least one occasion, were injected with TB-4 (which is all that was required to allow WADA’s appeal). Notably, one member of the panel (not identified) was not comfortably satisfied about use in the case of “several” players. Query who that was, and to which players that dissatisfaction related.

Some more specific observations, having regard to Hird’s recent announcements, and the sanction imposed on the players:

4. It was apparently undisputed that Robinson reported to Hamilton AND Hird.

5. Robinson introduced Dank to Hird, around September 2011, and sent him a paper co-authored by Dank. Indeed, when applying for the Essendon job, Robinson (through his agent) referred to Mr Dank’s expertise in pharmacology/supplementation.

6. Dank was interviewed on 28/9/2011 for the position of “sports scientist” at Essendon, by Hird, Robinson, Thompson and Corcoran (HR). After the meeting Hird invited Robinson and Dank to his home to discuss what they were going to do to “turn this club around”. It was agreed that Dank was to introduce and run a supplements program [complying with the WADA code and the AFL anti-doping code].

7. Dank was offered employment commencing 1/11/2011. His responsibilities included “the design of supplementation protocols and recovery procedures and their implementation”.

8. By early January 2012 it was apparent that players were being injected without Reid’s approval. Reid approached Hird. A meeting was convened in mid-January 2012 between Dank, Robinson, Thompson, Reid, Hird and Hamilton. Hird says it was agreed that no more supplements would be administered without Reid’s approval. Reid framed his protocol in terms that any substance administered must be proven to be legal, safe, explained to the players and in receipt of their informed consent.

9. Robinson confirmed the protocols in an email post-meeting. Hird responded in these terms, “As long as we stick to those three guidelines and you and Steve think it will help us then let’s go for it”.

10. On 16/1/2012 McVeigh (player leader) raised concerns about the program with Hird and others.

11. On 17/1/2012 Reid wrote to Hird and Hamilton, expressing his concern about the supplements program. (This has been well publicised).

12. On 30/1/2012 Hird and Corcoran exchanged texts. Hird said in response to concern about lay people [Dank] injecting players: “Understand about injecting and don’t want to push boundaries. Just need to make sure we are doing everything we can within the rules as the other clubs are a long way ahead of Reidy and us at the moment.” Hird also refers to “Reidy…stopping everything.”

13. On 12/2/2012 the players were called to a meeting and addressed by Hird, Robinson and Dank regarding the new supplement protocols. They were asked to sign consent forms. The forms referred to “Thymosin” [The panel found elsewhere that the only relevant form of thymosin for what the program was designed to do was TB-4, not “thymosin-alpha”, which was not banned, but was used to boost the immune system, not as a recovery agent]. It was asserted in the consent form that the program was WADA-compliant. Notably, Dr Reid was not at the meeting.

14. Dank continued to inject players, and to report this to Hird. E.g. on 12/4/2012 Dank texted Hird, “All IV and injections completed.”. On 19/4/2012, “This afternoon’s group went very well…All injections completed for the week.” Hird responded, “Good news. Now let’s take it up to the Blues.” [As the panel notes later, Essendon won eight of the first nine games that season before being destabilised by a rash of injuries].

15. In mid-May 2012 a meeting took place between Hird, Reid, Thompson, Dank and Oliver, a psychologist. Dank was told to cease injections but it would appear that the players were not told this. Whatever you might conclude from this about Hird’s concern for the program, (a) it was too late already – the players had already breached the code; and (b) the injections continued unabated.

16. On 9/3/2012 Dank texted Hird, “IV start next week. And Thymosin with Ubiquinone. We will start to see some real effects.”

17. The panel found, “The closed circle of officials within the club privy to Mr Dank’s regime were careful to ensure that even the club doctor was not made aware of it. It was surely by design, not through accident, that the regime was not disclosed outside the circle during the season.”

18. The players were instructed to keep the regime secret. (Player) Davis says, “they wanted to be confidential within the playing group, because they didn’t want other teams to…find out…I remember them saying that only a couple of the coaches were aware of what the supplement program was going to be.” While other players disputed this, the panel found that their undisputed behaviour spoke for them in relation to their state of mind: they kept the club doctor out of the loop, and they failed to record the injections on the doping control forms. Explanations for this were considered unconvincing. Their credibility was undermined in other ways too. Notably, no record of the program was kept at Essendon.

19. All players had received anti-doping education. No player used the WADA hotline or any other hotline. No player claims to have conducted internet searches of thymosin or to have made any other inquiry about it (except McVeigh, after the ASADA investigation had already commenced). No player asked the club doctor.

Arguably the judgment takes an unobjectionable, fairly even-handed, sensible, reasonable approach and has regard to all relevant considerations.

The standard penalty is two years. There are provisions for back-dating having regard to delay, which was established, and also for taking into account provisional suspensions already served.

The panel took into account, effectively, that it was reasonable for the players to be able to commence pre-season training by November 2016; otherwise their 2017 season would also be compromised. Hence the penalty was backdated to the date of the AFL decision on 31/3/2015 and then reduced by the provisional suspensions. The back-dating was arguably a somewhat arbitrary means of mitigating the penalty, but no doubt fair, all things considered.

Bec Wilson wrote an article today about the “cult” of James Hird and its effect on Hird and others. Worth a read.


  1. Daddsy,
    One of the things I have been commenting on elsewhere, has been the need to read the CAS judgement.
    I was able to do this on and it made for both interesting and concerning reading, as I was not aware of some of the things that were in the decision.
    I think your post is a fair and accurate account of the CAS decision something that is not present in many comments that I have seen elsewhere..
    The culture surrounding this episode is concerning because there are many times when information could/should have been sought by the players and others involved and it was not.
    I have a son who plays AFL in Queensland and through his years from Under 14 upward there have been education programs, so I can’t see how players in the elite regime didn’t want to check out what they were getting injected with in some way. My son for example was weighed before and after training to help with his recovery and received advice and information about diet, preparation and recovery.
    As I read the CAS decision I was taken with the links there to some of the political spin that is so present in our lives these days.
    The notion of plausible deniability – where I can run a defence that I didn’t know what was going on or all of what was going on seems endemic in the Essendon culture.
    While politicians seem to like this ‘plausible deniability’ wriggle room I am not sure anyone believes them or respects them for it.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thankx Daddsy a v useful and educational perspective especially as you are a lawyer.Michael how do you think the next legal installments of this saga will pan out re the potential sueing by the players both current and past ? Does signing the waver change things ? On another note I think back to being in the change rooms at Bob Neil 1 after the drawn night game when matters arose affecting the worlds greatest fc and senior players immediately asked questions and were given honest answers definitely a case of a truly amateur fc club being more professional and better run club than a afl club

  3. It doesn’t take long for the jokes to start.

    Q: What do you call a group of drug cheats?

    A: A Hird !


  4. Yep, totally agree Parsimony. Malcolm any civil action is likely to require players to give evidence positively affirming deception. This is likely to be problematic for a host of reasons, some of which are set out in the judgment. I’ve seen an opinion apparently provided to the AFLPA which suggests the players may have a cause of action based on the incoherence of the consent form. I respectfully disagree. The incident you refer to is the announcement we made about our imminent “alignment” with the Crows for “top up” purposes. Senior players expressed their concern that we not thereby undermine our unique culture. This spoke tellingly of how much that culture means to the players, which was music to this administrator’s ears. Moreover, it spoke of an openness that permitted a free exchange of views / concerns between players and administrators / coaches, as you point out. Thanks Glen, appreciate it.

  5. Thanks Daddsy. Ana excellent summary, and consistent with some details that I had heard (Hird?!).
    I fonly he apologists and flag wavers could read and understand it too – Maybe send a copy to Cornes – he sees to have jumped onto the bandwagon.

  6. Yvette Wroby says

    Thanks Daddsy and Almanackers. I spent last night reading the whole CAS document, couldn’t put it down and agree with all of the above summaries.

    These were my thoughts jotted down at midnight last night for the Almanac as responses to the CAS document:
    1. Essendon (all of them) and players seem not to comprehend that they have broken the rules
    2. They have fought the process every step of the way (and shifted blame) and missed the point
    3. Why can everyone else see it and these blokes can’t
    When Danks admitted the team was given T-4 then withdraw, it was Freudian to the core. He said the truth and then back pedaled once journalist checked.
    4. CAS report stopped my sympathy to the players, especially them withholding the taking of substances. If they thought it was legal, why not write it down. This wasn’t being given to other clubs, it was being given to the anti-doping authority.
    5. If it had been Saints or any other smaller team we’d be out on our arses
    6. We have players like Saad who accepted his responsibility and a whole football club who haven’t. What is that teaching us all?
    7. Getting Sheedy in to rev supporters up – as if the club continues to see itself as a victim and not of the culprits in this sage. This was a choice and a path
    8. the whole situation at Essendon stinks of group-think. (ie group of people who get in the grip of a psychological whole, unable or unwilling to be independent of the groups thinking) No-one seemed to step back and think individually.
    9. I am staggered that even with a lawyer for a wife, (having read his two Sun/Herald pieces) Hird completely misses the point of working within the rules, perhaps his brilliance as a footballer/businessman means that he feels they don’t apply to him
    10. Left feeling really angry at the damage the Essendon sage has cost to the AFL and potentially the pool of resources for all other clean clubs.
    11. AFL seems to have become an apologist after the decision. Such is the power of Essendon
    12. Essendon players and Club need to “suck it up”, take the punishment, at the bare minimum they were careless with their bodies and their trust.
    13. The AFL should not pay Essendons way out of this
    14. No Club who worked with Danks or Robinson will not be tarnished in some way.
    15. At least Cronulla took their punishment like adults and took responsibility.
    16. With the possibility of players now taking court action, who pays for this? (If they go at Essendon, does the AFL have to support them more?)
    17. A man once told me that when caught in a lie (having an affair) a group of men told him to “Deny, Deny, Deny”. This has come to mind throughout this sorry mess.

    Daddsy, thanks for the opportunity to comment, and for the succinct coverage of CAS report.

  7. Yvette, you had me going there for a minute. I thought you were providing an educated, informed opinion of the CAS finding – and then you let down your guard. You are obviously a St Kilda supporter, who is more than willing to take the bits out of this ruling and make them suit your argument. In point 6 you state that Ahmed Saad accepted his responsibility …. well guess why, It’s because he DID take an illegal substance. In your next point you started to make a point about Sheedy. There goes any shred of unbiased, educated & informed argument. I see that you went on to make 17 points. I stopped at point 7.

  8. You have provided a considerable public service in doing this Daddsy. Thanks.

    Tonight’s interview with Tracey Holmes was illustrative – as much for what was left out as for what we heard. Tracey would have been well-served by a reading of your CAS judgment precis. She could have asked him a lot of specific questions about things that we know and can conclude on the basis of clear evidence.

    I think, sadly, James Hird is digging a bigger and bigger hole for himself. Were Shakespeare alive he would be drawn to this story. A telling element of tonight’s interview was that he stuck to message – sympathy for the players/justice for the players. No-one, he said, should have to live with the label of drug cheat. That shows how much ‘image’ and ‘reputation’ mean to James Hird. If he wanted a more substantial message he should have gone with “I am first and foremost concerned for the players’ future health.” As the players and their nearest and dearest are.

    I also found the discussion of the toll on James Hird difficult to take. That was not for this moment. It had PR written all over it. But then again, much of the interview did.

    I’d be interested to hear Daddsy, how you as a barrister, would have approached the interview. I’d also be interested to hear what questions other readers wanted asked.

  9. Say it isn't so says

    I noted that Tracy Holmes’s interview with Hird was directed by a Craig Little. Surely it wasn’t the elbow?

  10. With reference to my comment about the toll on James Hird’s family, I just wanted to make clear that I have no doubt the past three years has been awful for the family, especially the kids. That’s a long time for kids. And I have sympathy for them. My point is that I just didn’t think it was the right time for Hird to be discussing it. Of course he can do what he likes, and take the interview where he chooses – if he’s allowed to. To me that part of the interview did not build the authority of his purpose – which I thought was to tell the real story without it being mediated by journalists and commentators.

  11. I thought one of the most curios snippets in the CAS judgement report was paragraph 113.

    For contest, the proceeding Paragraph (112) says “The Panel rejects the 32 Players submission on this point because (1) it was unsound…” etc. (the 32 players being all except Crameri &Prismall, who had different legal representation)

    Paragraph 113 then reads “Yet further analogies (jigsaws, Danish arthouse films) were thrown into the forensic mix. However, metaphor is ultimately no substitute…”

    Ok, now it doesn’t explicitly say that it was the Essendon lawyers bringing up Danish arthouse films, but given the preceding paragraph, and the way the phrase in the report just drips with contempt, I think it’s a fairly safe inference. In which case, it speaks volumes to the apparent desperation of the Essendon players’ lawyers.

    As such, I can’t see why anyone at Essendon or the AFL can claim to be “shocked” or even surprised by the verdict. Surely, if this is what your lawyers were resorting to in their desperate, far-fetched efforts to muddy the waters, you can’t have been confident. You must have know you were going to cop a hiding.

  12. Great factual article. Astonishing that Hird is trying to pass the buck everywhere else when it rests with him.

  13. Thanks all very much for your comments – I’ll respond asap. I’m working on a follow-up article – there seems to be a call for it! My feeling is that Hird is suffering from the very human condition of not being able to see in himself what others can clearly see. Jung calls it the “shadow”. We build up these powerful stories about ourselves which form our “identity”. Anything that doesn’t fit with that (illusory) image is rejected / ignored. Moreover, the “truth” takes on a substantial subjective gloss. What makes it worse here is that Hird has gone public. He has therefore invited a public response (unlike Dank or Robinson). We humans are pretty good at smelling bullshit. We smell it here. So much better to have maintained his silence. There tends to be at least some dignity in silence.

  14. Daddsy, I think on an individual level personal honesty (and a healthy conscience) is what it’s all about. We all have an imagined self and we all develop a set of narratives which we believe to be its foundation and support. I used to say (part jokingly?), “It’s my illusion and I’ll live in it.”

    I think you just have to get beyond that imagined self, especially in crunch times. Hard to do.

    On a collective level it’s about genuine relationships. They are elemental, fundamental, essential.

    Whether it be trusted family or close friends, we need people (who care) who will not only enjoy the great moments with us, but when they feel the need to will take us aside and say, “It might be a good time for you to try to stand outside yourself, as much as that is possible, and be genuinely self-critical.” Affirming the (failing and failed) narrative is not always the best thing for a confidant and friend to do.

    I think of wise confidants with whom I have sat – Mike Selleck (Dips’s uncle by coincidence, whom I knew long before I met Dips) was one. His method was so gentle. He would suggest things to read – authors, novels, other books, poems, essays, newspaper articles Or he would talk about things over a beer knowing that a thoughtful (and self-critical) person would go away and contemplate them.

    As for James Hird, these are matters for his conscience, and not for me to pass judgment on.

    I can only acknowledge that I have immense respect for those who cared enough to be honest with me.

  15. Great summary Daddsy.

    The part of the judgment that I find most interesting (and that Hird clearly hasn’t read yet) is paragraphs 99-110.

    The panel states clearly that the Court only needs to be ‘comfortably satisfied’ that TB-4 was taken, and does not need direct proof but can rely on several pieces of corroborated indirect evidence of TB-4 use.

    Hird (amongst many others) has maintained throughout the whole saga that the players are not drug cheats and do not deserve the blight on their records. I wonder how he reconciles this point of view when he reads that it is not necessary to prove intent, fault or negligence on the athlete’s part to establish a doping violation.

    When you read the judgment and your summary it really is baffling that Hird can maintain such a facade of outrage and injustice.

  16. Tom Martin says

    Thanks Daddsy. Ever since my days at University, I’ve felt that the Cliffs Notes approach to learning and education is seriously undervalued. Relieved of the burden of actually reading the judgment, I figure I now owe you a few minutes of my precious remaining lifetime. Please accept my two bob’s worth as payment in lieu.

    Behind the elaborate intricacies of fact and law (which I can now safely ignore), Essendon’s misfortune is a lesson about messianic leadership and how perilous it can be for an ethical culture. Blind faith led Essendon and its devoted fans to follow their saviour into the desert, but forty days became four hundred and Essendon’s exile still goes on.

    The story of the homecoming hero who singlehandedly slays the dragon is an ancient myth with a ferocious pull. Our craving for a familiar bed-time story reflects the basic human desire for a sense of order amidst the chaos and darkness. Real life seldom has a fairytale ending. Why do we still cling so fiercely to the fairytale beginning?

    We’re fortunate to have fables to remind us of what myths forget. So when you find yourself at a party where the Kool-Aid is pouring, try to remember the sorry tale of “The Hero and the Hird-Instinct”.

  17. Barkly St End says

    Great summary.

    I’m still waiting for the bit we’re see the evidence that all 34 players used TB-4.

    Is it hidden somewhere? Are only a select few privy to it?

    To quote Darren Kane, a well known sports lawyer who writes for The Age: The CAS was not concerned as to the actual source of the TB4. And the CAS did not make any finding that any player was administered TB4 at any specific time on any particular day.

    At no point does WADA provide any evidence that TB4 ended up anywhere near any Essendon player.

    It’s interesting to compare this to the Mark French case. In that case, an actual prohibited substance was found in his hotel room, he was initially found guilty of using a prohibited substance but that decision was overturned by the CAS on appeal.

    The CAS said: : “In the absence of evidence of the presence of a prohibited substance in the athletes [sic] body, such as a urine sample and its laboratory analysis, what is required to be prove[n] is the use of the prohibited substance itself.”

    So did WADA prove the use of the prohibited substance itself? If the did, the CAS didn’t make any mention of that.

    The CAS went on to say that French could not be found to have committed a doping offence because because “there [was] no direct evidence that Mr. French used the material in the sense that no-one saw him use it and he has consistently denied use.”

    So French denying that heused the substance sitting in his hotel room was sufficient for CAS to overturn the original guilty decision.

    The gap in the burden of proof required in the French case and what the CAS has run with in the Essendon case varies significantly.

    Someone might respond that the CAS can actually decide these matters in any manner they wish (which is a problem I would have thought).

    In the meantime, I am reading of genuine concern amongst professional athletes groups around the world expressing genuine concern about a seemingly closer relationship between WADA and the CAS (see Pechstein’s appeal against the CAS which was successful in the German courts last year).

  18. Fair dinkum if you were writing a satire on the Essendon doping saga, who better to have as the club’s first top up player than Ryan Crowley, a player who has been suspended for drug related issues.

    It’s an intriguing combination as the face of the New Essendon, post peptides saga. Your first recruit, Ryan Crowley, a player suspended for drug related issues, with a pharmacist, John Worsfold, as coach. It couldn’t have been scripted better.


  19. Dave Brown says

    Thanks for this Daddsy. Of course the psychology of James Hird is significantly more interesting than the word for word of the CAS judgment so this makes life easy for much of us. I’m intrigued by what appears to me the thin thread of Hird’s logic – it seems he believes it what’s more:
    – There was no intent to actually cheat
    – There is no reason why Dank would cheat
    – Therefore it is not possible that the players cheated

    It seems to me the answers are:
    – As far as anti-doping rules are concerned it doesn’t matter
    – There are plenty of reasons why Dank would cheat
    – Therefore it is entirely possible the players cheated

    What’s more it’s fairly clear CAS did not believe Hird’s first point. In fact they rely on the attempts to keep Dr Reid out of the loop and the players repeatedly withholding information on control forms and in other circumstances as demonstration of intent.

  20. The People's Elbow says

    I genuinely think Crowley is a good recruit, and have steered clear of obvious nutpicking on social media as it’s kind of a mug’s game

    Let’s be honest, Essendon’s ‘brand’ is well and truly fked regardless of who they recruit, so the motivation should be no more complicated than ‘best available’ – surely the club has already had its fill of the indigestible fried horseshit force-fed by its executive and PR hacks.

    At this point, if I were in the hotseat at Essendon I’d be transitioning the club to the ‘fk you’ outsider along the lines of the LA-era Raiders. Hell, the uniform is already primarily black.

    Crowley’s a start. Good on them.

  21. “In fact they rely on the attempts to keep Dr Reid out of the loop and the players repeatedly withholding information on control forms and in other circumstances as demonstration of intent.”

    Dave, yep, that’s enough to convince me they needed their backsides strapped.

  22. Elbow, the ‘fk you’ stance lacks a little tang without the uc. You oughtn’t bowdlerise rebellion. Also a hard pose to maintain while you’re being spanked weekly on-field by franchise clubs from nowheresville. So, I’m suggesting a slight modification. Instead of the LA Raiders fk you outsider stance, I think they’re trying for the Into The Wild rejection-of-civilisation-as-a-whole stance. “Fk you. I’ve wandered deep into the forest and am living off berries and brushing my hair with a pine cone and scratching the profundities of The Crowley into granite with my dk. Shove your fast cars, pho, and false prophets up your arse.”
    They’re almost there.

  23. The People's Elbow says

    That works – and after they’re dragged through the courts every day bar weekends and public holidays, it is probably one that meets budget.

  24. Thanks Daddsy for providing the ruling in easy to digest pieces. Sadly I don’t think my (still deluded) father in law will read it.

    Like JTH I was disappointed with Hird’s ‘tell-all’ as it appeared Tracey Holmes was either unaware of the finer details or was a cherry picked participant in a PR stunt.

    There may not have been an intent to cheat however the clear intent to take a chemically based short cut to success is rather damning. Hird’s connections to Charter and his own willingness to inject himself with various chemicals might have also been a topic for discussion, as might other little nuggets such as the muscular dystrophy drug from Mexico and the discussion between Hird and Dank where the latter conned him with the line about catching up with what Collingwood was doing.

  25. Say it isn't so says

    Australia’s finest sports satirist, Leapin Larry, has a little sympathy for the young dons players caught up in all of this. Have a read:


  26. Barkly St End says

    Our Pres, Peter Gordon, is now on the case, and what he has to say makes a lot of sense:

    Mr Gordon, who is also the Western Bulldogs president a club that has two of the banned players, said that under the 2010 AFL Anti-Doping Code, decisions of the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal could only be appealed if the decision contained a legal error or gross unreasonableness.

    However, an updated AFL anti-doping code released in January, 2015, allowed CAS to examine the whole case again.

    “The rules when they signed their contract referred to a 2010 anti-doping code which provided that the only appeal would be an appeal based on legal error,” Mr Gordon told the ABC’s Jon Faine.

    “A couple of months after the AFL trial started the rules changed, it changed it to give ASADA and WADA a ‘double jeopardy’ go.

    “You can’t change the rules mid-course, as a cynic might see it, because you know you’re going to lose.

    Mr Gordon revealed he was speaking with Swiss lawyers about appealing the CAS decision, labelling the judgment a “grave injustice”.

    “This CAS judgment contains factual errors, unsupported propositions of law, it applies findings which might be pertinent to one player and extrapolates it to all other 34 players, often with no basis at all,” he said.

    “History will show these young men have been subject to one of the gravest injustices in Australian sporting history.

  27. Barkly St – The Gordon grounds for appeal relate to the technical framework for deciding the matter, and not the substance of the negligent/reckless though unintentional PED use by the players.
    I see Slater and Gordon shares are worth 59 cents today. $8 a year ago. Hmm – I guess they need the work.

  28. What Hird and other management should have done is tell Dr Reid to go and do research on the supplements to be used, such as TB4 and AOD; regarding known activity, whether they have been approved for human therapeutic use, and report back. Any substance not approved for human use by the government regulator is automatically on the ASADA/WADA banned list. It could have saved all the pain. The information was out there. Even bodybuilders were openly into using these compounds. Hird went with Dank and Robinson rather than the club’s long-time doctor. Perhaps the doc was old-fashioned and a bit conservative, but the due diligence was not done which is a little perplexing given such high stakes if they got it wrong. It appears the players weren’t sure it was legit by failing to disclose to ASADA during testing. Watson and other senior players should have demanded more information. The junior players probably just went along with ‘ the team’.

  29. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I read the judgement one lunchtime before your piece Daddsy, but a legal perspective helps immensely, great summary. Thanks from me and the hundreds of people that have been drawn to this article.

    Even then, it would be interesting if the actual testimonies at the CAS appeal were made public, eg Doc Reid , what did he actually testify? Does this ever make it to the public domain?

  30. Laurie Laffan says

    I have watched James Hird play football since he was about 10 years of age.He played for the Ainslie Football Club juniors and had one season of first grade at the age of 16-17 [ premiership] before heading off to Essendon as a very late draft pick. James usually played two junior grades consecutively on Saturday morning. He performed with courage and skill against much bigger opponents. You could see that he would be a great footballer if he so chose. Indeed he did so choose.
    I have followed the proceedings over the past few years with a degree of confusion and general support for James Hird personally, but with a distaste for any supplements program. Having read the Daddsy summation and all of the above comment, I now feel that James should be even more courageous and accept the reality of his situation, as difficult as that may be for him, mainly for his future peace of mind and for that of his family.
    I will always remember him for his exploits on the football field and judge him to be among the very best, if not the best player of his generation. That would make for another great debate!

    Laurie Laffan
    Fitzroy supporter.
    Essendon/ Moonee Ponds boy.

  31. Daddsy’s summary is ok as far as it goes but it’s not an evaluation of the decision in the light of earlier CAS decisions. Barkly St End has noted the approach of this panel can’t be readily reconciled with the decision in French. Nor, perhaps more relevantly, can the approach to the ‘ comfortable satisfaction …bearing in mind the seriousness of the allegation’ (which is the test) be readily reconciled with what was said in Montgomery from para 36 (see especially the comments in the 3rd last subpara before para. 37). The bottom line is that on the approach discussed there, bearing in mind the seriousness of the Essendon charge, a much higher than ‘mere balance of probability’ and close to ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ should have been applied to the Essendon players. It is not apparent that it was. Nor is it clear why it wasn’t. It seems that the bar for a guilty finding in ‘no positive test’ cases has been lowered.

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