Banned St Kilda midfielder Ahmed Saad is free to continue his AFL career from the 2015 season after the AFL Anti-Doping Appeals Board dismissed an appeal to increase his ban.
Australia’s anti-doping agency, ASADA, had appealed the decision, arguing for a longer ban of 24-months.
After a hearing last month, the AFL confirmed the decision to keep Saad’s ban at 18 months, but did not publish the rationale.
Saad failed the test in July 2013, started his suspension in August and was delisted by the Saints in November.
The 18-month ban allows him to nominate for the 2014 AFL draft and play again in 2015 – if there is a club interested in re-drafting him.
St Kilda football boss Chris Pelchen said the club was pleased the appeal was unsuccessful, but would not commit to re-drafting Saad, now 24.
“We are open-minded to the possibility of him returning to the Saints, but like all players available in the draft, we will make the appropriate assessment later in the year,” he said.
“Until that time, we will continue to support his welfare, as permitted.”
Saad thanked his supporters, saying the certainty brought relief.
“I am relieved that this is all over, it has been a very long and hard 10 months on myself and everyone around me,” he said.
“I’ll continue training hard to give myself the best opportunity to come back next season.”
The AFL website said Saad consumed “Before Battle”, a sports drink banned on match days.
The drink contains Methyl Synephrine HCL, the same substance sprinters Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell and other sprinters have previously tested positive to.
One of Saad’s legal representatives, George Haros of Blue Rock Law, said the result was just.
“I think what this decision demonstrates is that, despite the strict liability imposed by the AFL anti-doping code, the code does have scope to find decisions which are both fair and accord with common sense,” he said.