Essendon coach James Hird will appeal against ASADA’s doping investigation into the club on November 10.
Essendon coach James Hird’s appeal against ASADA’s doping probe has been fast-tracked, with a judge saying it was in the interest of justice to bring an end to the 20-month saga.
Hird will now appeal against the joint Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and AFL investigation into the club’s 2012 supplements program on November 10.
The one-day hearing in which Hird will again challenge the legality of that joint probe would have otherwise been heard on the eve of the new AFL season in February or March next year.
Federal Court Justice Susan Kenny on Thursday ruled that an expedited hearing was in the interest of justice.
She said her decision took into account the welfare of the 34 past and present Essendon players who face allegations of doping, following an investigation that began in February 2013.
“The relevant Essendon players and personnel involved have been subjected to anxieties, uncertainties and pervasive concerns an investigation like this might invite, for a significant time,” she said.
That would continue to be the case as long as the anti-doping agency planned to issue them with revised show-cause notices, she said.
“In this event they will continue to be subjected to these anxieties, uncertainties and concerns for some time yet,” she said.
Hird was not in court for the brief interlocutory hearing but Justice Kenny said his concerns included his position as Essendon’s coach and damage to his reputation should ASADA formally issue the allegations against the players.
She also noted that media reports that ASADA will reissue those allegations, in the form of show cause notices to the players.
Essendon and its players are not appealing last month’s Federal Court ruling in favour of the ASADA and AFL investigation.
Hird has dropped an appeal argument that Justice John Middleton made an error when he found ASADA’s interim investigation report was provided to the AFL lawfully.
The league used the report to ban Essendon from the 2013 finals and suspend Hird for 12 months.
Hird will only focus on the lawfulness of the joint investigation and questions of statutory construction or the interpretation of the act.
Hird’s lawyer Nick Harrington said he would make available to ASADA the exact grounds for the appeal on Friday.
ASADA did not oppose Hird’s bid to expedite his appeal, but had requested a date on November 24.
The one-day appeal hearing on November 10 will be heard by three Federal Court justices.
The club on Monday said Hird will remain as coach, after widespread speculation that he may be sacked following his decision to appeal the verdict.