An uncertain future: Ahmed Saad. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
A shattered Ahmed Saad was weighing up his future on Thursday night after learning he was in danger of having six months added to his 18-month suspension for testing positive to a banned drug.
The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority is set to appeal against the length of the ban handed to the former St Kilda player, who tested positive to methyl synephrine HCL – a substance found in an energy drink he took before an AFL match this year.
The AFL tribunal issued the 18-month ban in November, but Saad could now face the maximum penalty of two years.
Saad, whose suspension has been backdated to August 20, had hoped to be redrafted by the Saints in the 2014 draft.
But the possibility of a two-year ban would make his return to an AFL list even more unlikely, given any club who drafted him at the end of 2014 would have to wait until August, 2015, to play him.
It is understood Saad has already incurred significant legal costs trying to clear his name, and is deflated by the prospect of having to start all over again, and is deciding whether or not he could get back into the system after spending two years on the sidelines.
The AFL appeals board will hear ASADA's appeal at a date to be fixed.
Former ASADA boss Richard Ings criticised the appeal, saying that Saad's ban was sufficient and the doping body should concentrate on other priorities.
ASADA is investigating Essendon and NRL club Cronulla for possible use of performance-enhancing drugs.
"I don't know the exact facts of all the cases but general rule is that 18-24 month bans are a win where no intent to dope existed," Ings tweeted.
"This is a case that I would put in the win column and move on to completing other more important matters."
Saad was delisted by St Kilda on November 14 and this week conceded he had previously taken the substance, which ASADA regulations permit can be taken during training, but not on match days.
Saad said he had consumed the pre-workout supplement, called Before Battle, before AFL matches, but was unaware until he tested positive in a routine match-day drug test that the substance was illegal on the day of a game.
Saad's lawyer has stated that the player's legal team had previously negotiated down from the maximum two-year penalty.
Saad could follow the path of VFL player Matthew Clark, who is serving a two-year ban for taking a similar substance.
His original penalty of nine months was increased after ASADA appealed.