Sunday, August 18, 2013

AFL: league of extraordinary gentlemen no more?



As the Essendon doping saga drags on towards its inexorable conclusion, with many parties under pressure for all sort of reasons, the most pressure is not on any single person, but the sport itself.

The AFL is defined by a series of gentlemen's agreements, starting with but not limited to the Laws of the Game - which are capitalised in general usage in footy circles like an Act of Parliament, but not encoded in actual statute. This model of the league writing its own rules, which are knowingly orthogonal in many respects to the law of the land, continues from the basics of the game all the way up to the high level concepts of socialist equalisation on which the league is precariously balanced. It is not necessarily a crime to trip a man in the street, but it is a punishable offence under the rules of Australian football. The courts look with jaundiced eye upon restraint of trade in most situations, yet the AFL imposes its will on young men to send them across the country to play for much less money than they could command in a truly free market.

When sporting regulations are tested in the courts they can be found wanting, as in the Terry Hill case in 1991 which proved that the NRL draft was a restraint of trade and left that league looking like a laughing stock. Similarly, Essendon and Stephen Dank have strong defensive arguments on many fronts in the current drugs scandal, as I am sure their highly-paid lawyers are telling them. For one, the new powers ASADA has to compel Dank to testify at pains of a $5,100 daily fine can be seen as an abuse of several human rights, such as the right not to be compelled to incriminate oneself. Essendon and Hird have a point when they highlight the conflict of interest the AFL Commission has in determining sanctions against EFC officials for bringing the game into disrepute at the same time as they are leading the investigation with ASADA into the drug allegations.

The pressure is on Essendon to give in and Do The Right Thing by sacking Hird, agreeing to cop levels of sanctions even worse that the Carlton salary cap breaches a decade ago, and accepting that they will share Carlton's fate of turning into a mediocre also-ran. However, at the top of the Essendon hierarchy now is not the president Paul Little, but James Hird himself, since all those at Windy Hill who might have stood up to him in the past are now gone.

We used to call him Gentleman James. Is he still a gentleman, able to see the bigger picture of the sport and act on its behalf instead of his own interests? It must be so difficult for him, knowing how duplicitous the league has been in its dealings. The carpetstrollers at AFL House do not deserve the paternal post-siren handshake-and-bum-pat of a victor.

Stephen Dank is no gentleman. He is going to fight to the bitter end. He has nothing else to play for, no team around him or future to build. James Hird has a family, a club and his own conscience in his mind right now. He holds the integrity of the sport, the game he loves and that has given him so much to live for, in the palm of his hands. He is not bigger than the game. He is not even bigger than his club. The AFL officials are not bigger than the game either, just fallible humans like he is, but Hird is being asked to look beyond their petty concerns as well. To be the bigger man.

No one wins out of this process, it's a negative sum. Even if Essendon goes to court and wins, thus destroying ASADA and the drug testing process in Australia, the sport it is a part of would lose and the Bombers would become the pariah of the competition. At some point, someone inside Essendon has to say enough, this has gone on too long and it's not worth fighting any more. At this point, the only person capable of making that decision is James Hird.

UPDATE: Sinclair Davidson responds at Catallaxy Files, asking why this is so messy.
I don’t actually disagree with much of what m0nty says. But I do wonder: how dumb are the AFL? If you’re in change of an organisation that is legally fragile, why would you mess with people who have standing to sue in court? Why would you mess with people who have money to sue in court?
As Leigh Matthews suggested the other night – the AFL should have whacked the club with some or other nonsense charge and moved on – but when it decided to go after specific individuals it chose to have a fight.
The answer is that the AFL can't give in like that, because the integrity of the sport is at stake. If it allows Essendon to flaunt the gentlemen's agreement not to use drugs, then it opens the competition up to all manner of other abuses of the trust that holds the game together. The league may have annoyed Hird and some fans with the tactics they have used, but the principle is more important than the minutiae of who leaked to whom. After all, no one wants Australian football to become as disgraceful as rugby league!

63 comments:

  1. "No one wins out of this process, it's a negative sum. Even if Essendon goes to court and wins, thus destroying ASADA and the drug testing process in Australia, the sport it is a part of would lose and the Bombers would become the pariah of the competition"


    WTF? So if the team goes to court to defend itself and wins, it loses along with the governing body?

    Are you on crystal meth, Fatboy?

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  2. You didn't need 699 words, Mont. Just a few would have sufficed: "I despise James Hird and everything he stands for, especially because he’s not a leftwing zombie like me."

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    1. Tom is right on the money.

      The fact is m0nty doesn't know.

      Conceivably even, he might be correct but he doesn't and cannot know.

      And neither do the nasty leftist journo 'intelligentsia' like Caroline Wilson and weedy Gerard Whateley.

      Ignorance has never stopped m0nty or his fellow leftists.

      In fact they usually choose ignorance rather than challenge their woeful ideology.

      Delete
    2. The captain of the club said he signed documents authorising the daily injection of an illegal drug. So did a lot of other players. There is no question at this point that people involved are going to be rubbed out, it's a matter of how many and for how long.

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    3. Have a look at the tape Monty, he admitted taking the supplement but also said that he was told it was permitted and Dank has said that he has a letter to that effect.

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    4. It doesn't matter what he thought, if he took the drug then he gets rubbed out, for six months at least. Dank can't produce the letter.

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    5. Dank can't produce the letter? Dank won't produce the letter to a kangaroo court. In the interim we should all reserve judgement until the jury decides who is right and who is wrong......unless of course you were in the room

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    6. "It doesn't matter what he thought, if he took the drug then he gets rubbed out, for six months at least. Dank can't produce the letter."

      Watson has not been charged!! Unless more evidence comes to light. So his admission has not damned him.

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    7. Watson has not been exonerated, despite what he and the players might think. ASADA is yet to weigh in.

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    8. ....nor has he been charged, so let's go to court and see whether there has been an offence committed, cos Essendon are not going to be punished unless evidence is produced. You know, positive drug tests and the like.

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    9. You'e not listening to my argument at all.

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    10. You haven't made an argument m0nty.

      You just slimed another man(and a much better man than you) in lieu of an argument.

      Which is what leftists do.

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    11. I am listening, you are just not making sense. If the AFL feels it can justify lynching member clubs that do not feel that they have committed an offence then the only option is to take the matter to a court of law. The fact that the AFL is judge, jury and executioner does not bode well for natural justice.

      That is contrary to your post which seemed to say that Essendon should take a punishment for something that they do not think that they did for the good of the game......of course then you decided to find them guilty without a trial.

      In any sphere, if a participant in a dispute feels that they did not get justice, they take it higher...to the courts. It is up to the AFL to convince Essendon that it has been treated fairly, otherwise it is off to the high court. Whether you like it or not, a judge will probably decide this and those at Essendon are probably thinking that if they do not get a fair hearing then there is no good to save in the game.

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    12. If every time a club felt it had got a dud decision at the Tribunal or some other decision like a fineable offense or club suspension it took it to the courts, the sport would be impossible to run. There is a balance to be struck here.

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  3. I wouldn't expect you wingnuts to understand.

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    1. Translation: I'm fresh out of Smarties. What the hell's left in the pantry? Oh yeah. Insults!

      PS: The commenting system works brilliantly, but you'll get your arse sued off as soon as the lefty brats start turning up in numbers as they don't understand the system of adult responsibility the Cat uses.

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    2. Adult responsibility, is that before or after you call me a fat monster?

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    3. Mont, You're mixing me up with JC. I've never called you a "fat monster". As TA advised the zombie media gotcha girls getting their knickers in a knot over imagined offences: "Calm down!"

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    4. You were claiming the Cats as responsible adults, I was pointing out their childish irresponsibility.

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  4. "The captain of the club said he signed documents authorising the daily injection of an illegal drug. So did a lot of other players."

    Evidence?


    Present the evidence, fatboy.

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  5. He admitted it on Fox Footy's On The Couch program. It was in all the papers. Evidently you missed it.

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  6. "He admitted it on Fox Footy's On The Couch program. It was in all the papers. Evidently you missed it."


    Bullshit.

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  7. LOL, if you don't even know the basics of the case then how can you argue? Peanut.

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  8. Who admitted it and what exactly did he admit, Fats?

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  9. Have you received training on being an evasive moron from the king of evasive morons... Homer E Paxton?

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  10. Of all the morons in Leftwing Ozblogs, Monster, you attracted Homer E Paxton. That is certainly quite an accomplishment.

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  11. What you appear to be saying is that the AFL have no evidence to prove that Essendon did anything wrong, but James Hird should accept punishment for something he may not have done for the good of the game. I put it to you that if the game behaves like that, it is not worth saving.

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  12. Jobe Watson admitted on OTC on live TV that he and a significant amount of players signed a consent form which specifically mentioned AOD-9604, which WADA has deemed to be prohibited under clause s0 of the drug code. That doesn't even count the other group of players who took Thymosin, which is banned under s2.

    The only evidence we are waiting for is a full interview with Dank. That is why the ASADA report is interim, not final. All other evidence is in, and it is damning.

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    Replies
    1. what it is, buddy, is hearsay

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  13. ......otherwise, the players would have been charged. And they haven't and won't be.

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  14. LOL, if you think the players get off scot free then I have some bridges on the moon here to sell you.

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    Replies
    1. So you were in the room....

      "I have some bridges on the moon here to sell you"

      I believe you have just admitted that you are on the moon and I have no reason to doubt you

      Delete
  15. No surprise, you're lying, Fatboy. That wasn't hard to predict.

    You fat idiot.

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  16. LOL JC, you have no idea at all what you're talking about. Blind leading the dumb.

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  17. Fatboy,

    There are several comments at the Cat suggesting the substance wasn't illegal.

    Now, unless you have evidence otherwise, then go swallow at couple of dozen burgers and get you blood sugar up.

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  18. Moral of the story: wingnuts do not know what they are talking about.

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  19. Monster:
    Was the substance legal or not?

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  20. AOD-9604 was not legal, but this was only explicitly stated by WADA recently. Previously, you needed to understand the intricacies of the drug code to figure out that it was not legal. Ignorance is not a defence, btw, especially for those whose job it is to comply with the drug code.

    Thymosin was always illegal. Some players took AOD and some took Thymosin. Both groups are under threat of upcoming bans.

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  21. Shossmeister


    JC: That quote has been worded in such a way as to give the impression it is simply paraphrasing Watson saying: “Yeah, I signed a document saying the club could inject me with illegal drugs.”
    Watson never said this. He said that he did indeed sign a waiver, but he was under the impression that whatever he was injected with was legal and above board – as indeed it was, at the time.


    Sinclair Davidson

    JC – Jobe Watson admitted to being injected with a substance known as AOD 9604. The status of this drug is in dispute. The fact that no player has been charged with consuming a banned drug tells you all you need to know.

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  22. As I said, JC, what Watson believes or not is irrelevant. He confessed to taking a banned drug which carries a six month minimum sentence.

    Sinclair is running Watson's deluded line that the lack of charges so far means he is "vindicated". This is horse hockey. The status of AOD-9604 is not in dispute, WADA has said it is banned under clause s0.

    ASADA is waiting to interview Dank to wrap the case up neatly and quickly. If that doesn't work out, they have enough already to rub out players based on their own testimonies, according to leaks from the interim report.

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  23. m0nty - I'm not running Watson's line at all. I'm pointing the long-standing convention that if the authorities allege wrong-doing but cannot bring changes or prove their allegations that the original change is bunk. If ASADA or the AFL do not charge any player with wrong-doing then the players are vindicated. This notion that someone is guilty of some or other offence simply because the State or relevant authority says so has been foreign to our understand of justice since the Magna Carta.

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  24. The investigations are not complete, Sinclair. They can bring charges, they just haven't yet. Wait for it.

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  25. Greetings mUnty, you Hawkies tragic.

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  26. If an illegal activity has occurred then DPP should be prosecuting the case not the AFL,and not on charges that simply allude to illegality. Rather, the AFL should be lead activists in ensuring the DPP takes proper action, and generally not interposing themselves as some sort of self-appointed righteousness police. The AFL show trials will go nowhere. The confected AFL outrage is all about pointing fingers to distance themselves from the inevitable shit flinging that will occur in a proper court case, IF the time for court ever comes.
    Monty's argument is circular and full of holes.
    Sounds like mmmmmm donuts.

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  27. Poor m0nty... too many flogs who really should have twitter accounts and get stuck with their pithy comments there.

    Oh wait... I just added a pithy comment. *goes back to twitter*

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  28. That said... m0nty has a valid point. Essendon CAN argue all it likes about this, and take it to the highest court in the land and STILL WIN (legally) ...but LOSE COMPLETELY in the court of public opinion.

    Pariahs they are already becoming, based purely on the lack of due diligence / governance front. Whether proven or not that players took 'not for human use' substances, animal drugs, PED's or sugar coated almonds... it matters not. The taint of the belief of injecting young footballers in a chaotically unorganised yet sanctioned way with *anything*, has tarnished footy and is turning people away from the game.

    Essendon may use 'Keep your Sunny Side up' as the basis for its theme song, but it has forever been darkened by this sham of a sports 'science' regime.
    Not even St. James can polish this turd and give it any lustre.

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  29. Fatboy doesn't have a point to make, so stop the bullshit, stats.

    There are no charges being laid and the fat blimp is making it all up as he goes along.

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  30. JC, show some respect to someone with a far stronger grasp over statistics than you or I will ever have.

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  31. Stop trolling at your own blog, you blimp.

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  32. It says "trolling" in the header, idiot.

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  33. Looks like the AFL are backing down - pity I was hoping they'd fight. Hope the Bombers push for total unconditional surrender.

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  34. "It says "trolling" in the header, idiot."

    And you're living up to your own expectations, you over-sized blimp.

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  35. AFL 360 are reporting that AOD 9604 is NOT prohibited. AFL case looking very sick - do you think Fairfax and News will back Wilson and Smith in the forthcoming defamation cases?

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  36. hahahahhahahahahahahahahha

    Another great prediction, Fatboy. At this rate it's a perfect score. Zero predictions correct, which in itself is quite the accomplishment.

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  37. Laura Tingle ‏@latingle 6m
    So how can ASADA & the AFL know a drug is not banned but just not say anything for six months? #AFL360


    Well they have lost Fauxfacts. Expect the rest of the jackals to take flight. Quo vadis, Monty?

    Snoopy

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  38. Brian of MoorabbinAugust 20, 2013 at 9:43 PM

    hey m0nty, apparently AFL360 is currently reporting that AOD9604 is NOT a prohibited drug (as noted by Sinc on the Cat's latest OT)...

    Any idea when Andrew, Caro, et al will be charged with bringing the game into disrepute?


    (Also, you're not posting at the Cat I notice, so I'll ask here: Whay has my other comment on this thread been deleted?

    Censorship already monty? From someone who tried to claim the moral high-ground over free speech?

    tut tut tut…)

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  39. AFL360 said nothing new at all. Gerard Whateley just changed his mind based on the same evidence. AOD was still banned from 2011 onwards under s0.

    I haven't moderated anyone, Brian.

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  40. Brian of MoorabbinAugust 20, 2013 at 11:32 PM

    Then where's my comment that your behaviour makes me ashamed to be a Hawks supporter?

    I have a screenshot showing it was published, yet it's nowhere on this thread.

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  41. I have not seen that comment, Brian. By all means, send through or link the screenie. You are quite welcome to say things like that, I wouldn't consider that beyond the pale.

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  42. Throng crying "AOD not banned" now silenced by the 34pages of torment.

    Anyone...?
    Buhler?

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  43. Going to court. Yay. Hopefully we'll see some AFL affiliated journos in the dock being asked tough questions.

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  44. That's very Finkelsteinian of you, Sinclair.

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