Integrity unit could lose its integrity

Andrew Sutherland Roar Guru

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    The AFL and its bulked up integrity unit is in danger of morphing into the Stasi.

    In the avid pursuit of noble ideals like integrity you can justify to yourself listening in to people’s private conversations but then suddenly you’re extracting their fingernails and attaching their nether regions to an electricity supply.

    An idea was floated at the recent AFL Commission meeting that crosses an important line in regards to the right of players to privacy.

    As one of a number of methods to combat drug use and criminal influence it was suggested that players be impelled to submit a list of all of their friends and associates to the integrity unit.

    Now while the suggestion was not acted upon, the angst stirred up by the ACC report makes its future implementation a distinct possibility according to Gillon McLachlan.

    The proposal is based on the register kept by the Victoria Police to fight corruption within its ranks. It’s a procedure that is necessary in the struggle to ensure the integrity of those people involved in the vital tasks of law enforcement, maintaining public order and protecting law-abiding citizens.

    But is it really justified in the case of footballers? I know I wouldn’t want to give out details about my friends and have the relationships examined and “monitored” by the AFL, even if I had nothing to hide. I’m sure most of the friends wouldn’t want to be on such a list either.

    And if there are players who have criminal associates providing them with banned and illicit substances and involving them in match fixing, they wouldn’t be stupid enough to put those associates on the list, surely.

    The slightly manic response by the AFL to the Australian Crime Commission’s findings is understandable. It was shocked and embarrassed to find out that performance enhancing drugs are being used and yet only one player has ever been sanctioned – Richmond’s Justin Charles in 1997.

    The AFL should not be tempted to use the methods of an enforcement agency like ASADA which necessarily treats everyone with suspicion and doesn’t accept genuine ignorance as an excuse.

    The large majority of players do not use banned substances or associate with criminal types and the correct approach to ensuring they never do and catching the guilty ones, is through education.

    The players were recently advised by police experts about the insidious methods used by criminals to establish subversive relationships with impressionable young players.

    However, the greatest enemy to drug cheats and those involved in match or spot fixing (if they exist in AFL) are the players prepared to dob them in.

    The ASADA requirement that players provide constant information about their whereabouts so they can be drug tested at any time has produced nothing.

    It’s doubtful that the ‘friends register’ would be bear any fruit either. But it would ruin the players’ relationships with their friends and the AFL.

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    The Crowd Says (8)

    • Roar Guru

      March 3rd 2013 @ 8:53am
      sheek said | March 3rd 2013 @ 8:53am | ! Report


      My first thought when I heard of an integrity officer being attached to each sporting club, was the political commissar attached to Russian or Nazi military units in WW2.

      They tended to be more disruptive than constructive to smooth, effective operations.

      And like the phalanx of coaches & medical staff now employed by sporting clubs, these integrity officers will want to become every bit as relevant as the 100 other backup staff on the payroll. 😉

      It’s a bad idea, a very bad idea…..

    • March 3rd 2013 @ 9:36am
      db swannie said | March 3rd 2013 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      I thought the word “Integrity” was no longer attached to th AFL after the laughable Tanking/non tanking/tanking saga.

    • March 3rd 2013 @ 12:30pm
      MattRusty said | March 3rd 2013 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

      I’m with db swannie, its too late, integrity is gone, had their chance to be honest during the tanking saga. There is only one thing worse when you do the wrong thing and that is lying about it.

    • March 3rd 2013 @ 12:44pm
      Me Too said | March 3rd 2013 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

      How about the players association set up an independent integrity unit, with requisite obligations and submissions required by all afl committee members!

    • March 3rd 2013 @ 1:16pm
      Hughster said | March 3rd 2013 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

      The proposition alone is disgraceful. Any implementation would be disgusting.

      Hows this for a plan:

      1. The AFL puts in place robust processes to match their robust policies.
      2. The AFL applies these policies, comprehensively and transparently.
      3. The AFL holds parties who breach those policies to full and open accountability.

      There is one major step between the AFL and the player and that is the club. Start holding the clubs more accountable for the actions of players and things will start to improve.

      Asking players to nominate a list of associates is a dereliction of responsibility by the AFL.

      Beyond belief that it is even contemplated.

    • March 3rd 2013 @ 10:20pm
      Martin said | March 3rd 2013 @ 10:20pm | ! Report

      Don’t we already know whose friends with whom from Facebook?

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