m0nty has a thoughtful post at his new blog on ASADAgate (emphasis added).
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.
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.
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.