Why the Dees alone are facing probe
SINCE their club has hardly benefited from alleged tanking, Melbourne fans will be wondering why it has been singled out for an unusually thorough investigation.
They might also be puzzled why the Demons are being investigated for a crime that the AFL chief executive long maintained did not exist. Andrew Demetriou appears to have changed from atheist to agnostic in his tanking beliefs.
Several teams have lost a succession of games late in the season, often with sides weakened by timely surgery or the ubiquitous ''youth policy'' and qualified for a precious extra draft pick.
In 2005, Collingwood lost its last eight games, having eviscerated its side by putting a raft of senior players in for operations.
The Pies used their pair of early picks to recruit Dale Thomas and Scott Pendlebury.
Carlton managed to drop the last 11 games of the 2007 season, including the notorious final match against Melbourne that was known, even then, as ''the Kreuzer Cup''.
The Eagles twice qualified for priority picks at the end of the first round - snaring Luke Shuey and Jack Darling - in 2008 and 2010 respectively; in 2010, they lost their last six matches.
Richmond received (and duly squandered) an extra pick in 2004, as did Hawthorn, which selected Lance Franklin and Jarryd Roughead.
Those clubs, like Collingwood, West Coast and perhaps one or two others, were never subjected to a forensic examination for tanking.
Why? Only two teams have been investigated for the crime that doesn't exist. Melbourne wasn't the first. In March 2008, the AFL stewards quizzed Carlton following comments by former assistant coach Tony Liberatore, who aired his suspicion that the Blues had tanked to gain draft picks (Matthew Kreuzer and the pick No. 3 that help land Chris Judd).
''I never heard [a directive to lose], but I could feel it, if that makes sense,'' Liberatore said. ''Nobody ever said 'we're not going to win today,' but the feeling in the group was that it was a bit of a laugh.''
This comment was sufficient grounds for AFL integrity officer Brett Clothier to interview Brett Ratten, focusing mainly on the round-22 match.
The Blues also watched a replay of the game with the investigators, noting that they had hit the post on multiple occasions early in the match, leading to a scoreline of 15.18.
The other allegation that arose from that Kreuzer Cup clash was that the Blues had left Melbourne midfielder Travis Johnstone, in his final game for the Dees, alone and unmolested, allowing him to gather 42 disposals. Carlton's explanation to the AFL was that Johnstone's notional opponent, Heath Scotland, had gained a similar glut of possessions (41).
The Carlton investigation died there, bearing in mind that Libba never suggested that there was a directive to lose from any senior official. Carlton wasn't so stupid.
What the Carlton and Melbourne episodes demonstrate is that there are three factors that compel the AFL to investigate tanking. Without this trifecta, the stewards allow the race to the bottom to be run and ''won''.
The first is that there is a suspicious game, identified by the media, in which the coach has made ''baffling'' and experimental moves. The round 18 game of 2009 between Melbourne and Richmond was the stand-out example of a game that stank of tank, albeit the Dees almost ''lost'' their extra pick by winning (the hapless Jordie McMahon booting a rare goal on the siren).
West Coast never had a game so highlighted, nor did Collingwood. Fremantle had a 1999 late-season game against Geelong that was quietly called ''the Hasleby game'' - after the player the Dockers gained in the draft - but this was before tanking had percolated into the public arena.
The second cause is when an official or player voices the view that the club has intentionally lost. It was a comment by then coach Dean Bailey at the press conference confirming his sacking, and the more direct allegation of Brock McLean that led to the Dees being put through their present unpleasant probe (a case of double jeopardy, Bailey having been interviewed and the case not pursued last year).
The third factor is that the discarded do tell tales where tanking is concerned. Libba, McLean and Bailey - and many of those interviewed by the AFL in this most serious investigation - were former, rather than current employees.
Once outside of ''the vault,'' they're more willing to open it.