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James Hird comes clean on the biggest mistake he made in Essendon's drug scandal 

James Hird admitted to being naive and trusting ‘bad’ people when he was candid about his role in the infamous Essendon drug scandal, which left 34 people and their families ‘went through hell’.

The Bombers were at the center of one of the biggest scandals in the history of Australian sport, with 34 players found guilty on appeal of taking performance-enhancing drugs during the 2012 season.

Four years later, the AFL suspended the players involved in the scandal for 12 months, while 2012 Brownlow medalist Jobe Watson had to return his medal.

James Hird has admitted he trusted 'bad' people during the infamous Esssendon drug scandal

James Hird has admitted he trusted ‘bad’ people during the infamous Esssendon drug scandal

Hird, who was in charge of the Bombers from 2011 to 2013, missed the entire 2014 season after being given a one-year suspension for his role in the scandal.

He returned in 2015, but eventually left the club at the end of the season.

And the 49-year-old has now revealed that the trust of two ‘bad’ people cost him when he was in charge of the Bombers.

Stephen Dank and Dean Robinson were Essendon’s sports scientist and high-performance coach respectively during the supplement saga.

Thirty-four Bombers players were banned for one year by the AFL in 2016 for allegedly taking performance-enhancing drugs during the 2012 season

Thirty-four Bombers players were banned for one year by the AFL in 2016 for allegedly taking performance-enhancing drugs during the 2012 season

Thirty-four Bombers players were banned for one year by the AFL in 2016 for allegedly taking performance-enhancing drugs during the 2012 season

As part of the sanctions, 2012 Brownlow medalist Jobe Watson had to return his medal

As part of the sanctions, 2012 Brownlow medalist Jobe Watson had to return his medal

As part of the sanctions, 2012 Brownlow medalist Jobe Watson had to return his medal

Hird, who led the Bombers from 2011 to 2013, was suspended in 2014

Hird, who led the Bombers from 2011 to 2013, was suspended in 2014

Hird, who led the Bombers from 2011 to 2013, was suspended in 2014

Hird did not directly refer to the duo, but insisted that his trust was violated while he was at the club.

“I trusted the people I asked to do things to do things and they didn’t. [I was] a little naive,” he told the Howie Games podcast in an interview released on July 26.

“I was a really trusting, accepting person because nothing bad had happened to me.

“What’s most disturbing is that there are 34 players who have done absolutely nothing wrong and their families and they have suffered tremendously – and that includes the Essendon supporters.”

The 49-year-old returned to the AFL this season as a part-time assistant coach at GWS

The 49-year-old returned to the AFL this season as a part-time assistant coach at GWS

The 49-year-old returned to the AFL this season as a part-time assistant coach at GWS

Hird believes that those who have broken his trust have also broken the trust of the players and their families.

“When something happened, I was just trying to get the players out of that position so that they were seen as completely innocent in what happened, which in the end didn’t happen that way,” he said.

“It weighs on you. There are 34 people and their families who have gone through hell through no fault of their own. Whatever people think, they just trusted it. They haven’t done anything wrong.’

Hird returned to the AFL this season as a part-time assistant coach at GWS and has emerged as a potential candidate to take the reins at Essendon following the resignation of Ben Rutten last month.

And has emerged as a potential replacement for Ben Rutten, who was sacked by Essendon last month after a dismal second season in charge

And has emerged as a potential replacement for Ben Rutten, who was sacked by Essendon last month after a dismal second season in charge

And has emerged as a potential replacement for Ben Rutten, who was sacked by Essendon last month after a dismal second season in charge

The Bombers are still looking for a replacement for Rutten after being rejected by Alastair Clarkson, who signed a five-year deal with North Melbourne and Ross Lyon.

Hird, an Essendon legend, has spent his entire 17-season AFL career with the club, winning the flag in 1993 and 2000 as captain, and his bond with Bombers fans remains strong.

Prior to the Round 13 match against Carlton, Hird was among those invited to celebrate the club’s 150th anniversary and was greeted by a loud reception.

Hird returned to Essendon in June as part of the club's 150th anniversary

Hird returned to Essendon in June as part of the club's 150th anniversary

Hird returned to Essendon in June as part of the club’s 150th anniversary

“I didn’t really want to do it,” he said.

“In the end it felt like the audience was cheering me on, but it was almost like thanking them a little too.”

While the podcast was being recorded before Essendon fired Rutten, Hird left the door open to a possible return to the coaching box in the future, but admitted it wouldn’t be a decision taken lightly.

“I would have to think very carefully about the road I’m on and there must also be an opportunity,” he said.

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