BENDIGO lawyers have cast an eye over the Essendon Bombers supplements fall-out and declared there are still a lot of legal implications to play out.
Stuthridge legal lawyer Luke Docherty said it was an “unprecedented ruling” in AFL history.
The Bombers were on Tuesday handed a $2 million fine and barred from playing finals this year. Mr Docherty said the legal fraternity had followed the case with interest.
He said the Bombers’ punishment was the biggest ever suspension handed down by the league.
But he said the punishment had been issued by the AFL commission and was not applied within a legal framework.
“These penalties are administrative,” he said.
“They have not been proved in a court of law.”
Mr Docherty said the protracted negotiating process between the AFL and the Bombers indicated a back-down from the Bombers, who had earlier vowed to fight all charges.
“I think it is an acceptance of guilt,” he said. “In effect they’ve accepted responsibility for what’s gone on.
“They still dispute the players have taken performance-enhancing substances, but they’ve acknowledged that the supplements program had brought the game into disrepute.”
Mr Docherty said one matter yet to be finalised was the potential for players to be charged as the ASADA investigation continued.
“There is still a risk there that infraction notices could be issued against them... at this point there doesn’t seem to be the evidence to support that.”
AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said yesterday that ASADA’s process was ongoing.
“There is no evidence at the moment to issue infraction notices to players about the use of prohibitive substances,” Mr Demetriou said.
“ASADA has made it clear they have an ongoing investigation, so that part of it remains open.”
Mr Docherty said the other interesting avenue to watch out for was the potential for players to sue for any health problems.
“From having read the document of charges, that certainly could be an option in terms of a further legal action open to players,” he said.
Mr Docherty said the fact the Bombers had avoided legal action for now had saved them “at least hundreds of thousands of dollars, in a conservative estimate”.
“There are some complex issues involved,” he said. “Everyone seems to be happy to see the end of it.”