The current claims of s*xual assault lurking around two unnamed Western Bulldog
players highlight the flaws in the AFL’s honourable but
heavy-handed planned laws relating to such events.

To be introduced next year, the AFL’s new Respect and Responsibility policy will see players liable to
be sacked if charged with such an offence. Under both the current and future
provisions, clubs will also be required to give League Headquarters the names
of any players under investigation.

But the investigations around s*xual assault are often fragile and imperfect.
In this case, it would appear two Victoria Police units clashed over how to
handle the alleged victim at the hospital and succeeded only in freaking her
out even more, to the point that she does not want to proceed with her complaint.

Even if the new code was in full effect, the situation for both club players
would not be radically different at this point. Things get interesting,
however, if police decide to press charges, a court date is set, or the players
are convicted.

According to an AFL Players’ Association
spokesperson, the new code lists the sanctions available to the AFL, but lacks crucial
details on how they might be applied, thereby putting players and clubs in
a weakened position.

Despite trying to make a clear statement on
the AFL’s position on player misconduct, the Players’ Association fears the
new code gives the AFL too much discretion, and players too little certainty. Which raises
the question, is the new code a convenient escape route for the AFL, at the player’s
expense, should the liniment hit the fan?

In an ideal world we’d never find out.