Essendon coach James Hird and the Bombers remain adamant he has not been asked to stand down as D-Day draws near in the AFL club’s supplements scandal.
While AFL legal counsel Andrew Dillon continues to review the interim Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) report into the Bombers, league chief executive Andrew Demetriou will return from the United States on Wednesday.
It is understood Hird’s legal team has also now received a copy of the report.
Dillon is deciding whether Essendon face AFL punishment over the saga.
Carlton coach Mick Malthouse weighed into the hot issue on Tuesday, warning the league against being “wishy-washy” if it decides Essendon should be punished.
The Blues are two games outside the top eight with four rounds left, but will be finals-bound if the AFL decides to strip fifth-placed Essendon of their premiership points as punishment for the scandal.
Former Adelaide captain Mark Ricciuto added the latest twist on Monday when he claimed that Hird had been issued an ultimatum to resign by Thursday or “someone else might make the decision for him”.
Ricciuto hopes he is wrong, but is not backing away from his statement.
Essendon issued a statement on Monday night saying they categorically denied what they termed a baseless rumour.
Hird on Tuesday repeated that denial.
“I think if you read the Essendon statement, they’re all untrue,” Hird told reporters at Windy Hill.
But Ricciuto told Adelaide’s Triple M radio on Tuesday that he had received the information from someone he regarded as a credible source.
He said it was not unknown for AFL clubs to deny things that turned out to be true, although he stressed he wasn’t accusing the Bombers of lying.
“They could (be). I’m not saying they are,” Ricciuto said.
“And I’m not saying James is guilty here and I never said that last night.
“Of course that (issuing a denial) is what they’re going to come out and do.
“A lot of people do come out and make statements at times.
“I’m not going to make another statement saying that they’re lying here either.
“But it’s not unusual for them to come out and defend themselves, but time will tell.”
Hird said he hadn’t been shocked or frustrated by Ricciuto’s initial claim, as he had become used to hearing allegations he regarded as false throughout the six-month saga.
“I’m not shocked by anything in this investigation or this process,” he said.
“There seems to be a lot of rumour and innuendo that has no fact to it.”
The AFL on Friday received the ASADA report into the Bombers, which was also handed to the club on Sunday.
Hird also said on Tuesday that what he most wanted to see was the players absolved of blame.
“Hopefully very soon, our players get a chance to come out and say that they’re clear,” he said.”
Malthouse told 3AW that the league must send a strong statement with its decisions about Essendon.
“We will not tolerate this game being put down in any manner or brought back to a certain standard in any manner,” he said.
“That means strong governance at the expense of names, clubs, anything – because then you make a great statement.”