Player cleared over nude Lara Bingle picture
An Australian Rules footballer accused of circulating a nude photograph of model Lara Bingle, later the fiance of Australian cricket star Michael Clarke, has escaped punishment at a misconduct inquiry.
Australian Football League football operations general manager Adrian Anderson said Friday a league investigation had found insufficient evidence to sanction Brisbane forward Brendan Fevola for allegedly circulating the picture of Bingle to fellow players. The picture was allegedly taken by the married Fevola during a short 2006 relationship with Bingle.
Clarke briefly left Australia's cricket tour of New Zealand to support Bingle when news of the existence of the photo first emerged last month. The couple, who had been engaged for two years, have since separated.
Anderson said Fevola admitted taking the photograph but it could not be proved he had circulated it to other players.
"Given the evidence currently available to us and the time elapsed since the alleged behaviour, the AFL has not established that a breach of our rules has occurred," Anderson said in a statement.
"However, we will continue to monitor whether there are legal proceedings arising from this matter and the AFL remains willing to speak with Ms Bingle."
Bingle, 22, has threatened to take legal action against Fevola over the photograph. She did not speak to AFL investigators but provided them with a statutory declaration.
"All AFL players and officials should be aware that taking and distributing private images without consent is unacceptable and can result in sanctions under the AFL player rules," Anderson said.
Fevola moved to Brisbane in the off-season after former club Carlton lost patience with a string of off-field controversies, culminating in drunken behaviour on television during an awards ceremony late last year.