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Hird launches court action against ASADA -

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ELIZABETH JACKSON: The suspended coach of the Essendon Football Club, James Hird, has followed his employer's lead and launched legal action against the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority.

Hird filed his own Federal Court case against ASADA late yesterday.

AM understands that Hird's case is similar to that of the club, arguing that the joint investigation of ASADA and the AFL into the club's 2012 peptide scandal was unlawful.

From Melbourne, Samantha Donovan with this report.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Just hours after the Essendon Football Club confirmed it is mounting legal action against ASADA, it emerged its suspended coach is doing the same.

James Hird has filed a case against ASADA chief executive Ben McDevitt in the Federal Court.

Essendon chairman Paul Little says the club's board decided unanimously that it had no choice but to fight to protect its players.

PAUL LITTLE: The club will contend that the joint investigation was unlawful and that ASADA acted ultra vires and exceeded its powers under its statute. There is no power or capacity under the ASADA Act to conduct a joint investigation, and there never was.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Paul Little says the club wants the ASADA/AFL investigation declared null and void and will seek a permanent injunction on the use of all the information gained in that probe.

Thirty-four players from the Bombers' 2012 list were served 'show cause' notices on Thursday night.

Mr Little believes they contain no evidence to support the allegations the players were given banned substances.

PAUL LITTLE: After 16 months, our players are in a no better position. How can our players possibly respond to serious allegations that were leaked through the media and then reinforced through ASADA with their media blitz?

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Mr Little denies that the legal action is Essendon's attempt to avoid the crucial issue of whether the club and its players breached the anti-doping code.

PAUL LITTLE: No of course not, no, that's a stupid thing to say. We're very happy to run the course of an 18 month or a two year investigation, if that's what it takes. We're very confident we'd win that.

But we believe that if the fundamental structure that surrounds this investigation, that I might add that the club and the players have totally honoured and totally complied with, if that's fundamentally flawed then surely we have a right to be taking whatever action is needed there.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: The AFL wouldn't comment on the Bombers' legal action, except to say it respects the right of all individual players and the Essendon Football Club to explore their legal options.

The Essendon champion Tim Watson is the father of the team's current captain Jobe Watson.

Now a broadcaster with Channel Seven, he told the network he's confident the players' names will be cleared. But he isn't so sure that his former team-mate James Hird will be so lucky.

TIM WATSON: I said from day one that I hold all those who were in positions of power at Essendon at the time responsible in some ways, and they shoulder varying degrees of blame.

James has to take responsibility, which he did on day one. And I think this will become messier for him and the Essendon football club, the longer it goes on, and in particular if infraction notices are handed to players.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Both the Essendon and Hird cases against ASADA are listed for first directions hearings in the Federal Court on the 27th of June.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Samantha Donovan with that report.