Ahmed’s Story a Saad one

BY – JACKSON CLARK

A promising young footballer has had his AFL career severely halted after he was given an 18-month suspension after admitting to taking a substance on the prohibited list.

St Kilda footballer Ahmed Saad will not be able to play football until 2015 after he tested positive to a banned stimulant contained in a pre-workout shake that he consumed before a match.

After reading many discussion boards and comments from fans of the game, the general consensus is that Saad is a cheat and he deserves his punishment.

But this was not the act of a cheat.

It was an honest, albeit negligent and naïve mistake made by a young footballer trying to get the best out of himself.

Saad had to work hard for an opportunity in the AFL. He joined VFL side Northern Bullants in 2009 despite not being formally invited to train with the club. He turned up unannounced to an early pre-season training and was allowed to continue.

After failing to play a senior VFL game in his first season with the club, Saad developed over the next two years and eventually become one of the most damaging small forwards in the competition.

His 50-goal season in 2011 finally gave him the chance at an AFL club yet only two years later he has found himself delisted.

Saad is not the only player that has had his career and reputation tarnished as a result of harsh drug bans.

VFL player Wade Lees copped an 18-month ban after attempting to import a fat-burning product he ordered on the internet.

His package was intercepted by Australian Customs who alerted the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority.  Despite not even taking the substance, Lees has missed two of the prime years of his football career.

Matthew Clark is another case of a young footballer missing years for an honest mistake. The VFL player consumed an energy drink that contained a banned substance prior to game.

There was no malicious intent in Clark’s actions, in fact, he knew he was going to be drug tested after the game.

The drink was reportedly common amongst VFL players and bought at a store that is easily accessible to any athlete.

Despite this his initial nine-month ban handed down by AFL Victoria was appealed by ASADA and increased to two years.

Clark’s mother Jan, while facing her own personal health problems with a cancer battle, expressed her dismay through writing a letter supporting her son.

She passed away two days before Mother’s Day this year and sadly never got to see her son play again.

There is absolutely no place for cheating in the AFL and other sports. However there is a big difference between knowingly injecting yourself with substances such as anabolic steroids and taking commonly consumed energy drinks.

Rather than hatred, Saad and the VFL footballers that received bans deserve sympathy. Saad has hopes of returning to the AFL after his ban expires and I personally hope he makes it back.

TWITTER @JClark182

About Jackson Clark

Born and bred in Darwin, Northern Territory, I am a young, aspiring football writer that lives and breathes the game of Australian Football. I'm also a keen player and coach.

Comments

  1. Very thoughtful Jackson and I agree with you 100%. Laws are optional, be they ALF, ASADA, criminal or civil. The rich and powerful hire lawyers to get them off on technicalities, while the disempowered are sacrificed.
    Well said.

  2. A sad story, but the onus of responsibility is on the athlete to comply. Athletes at all levels of sport in Australia are aware of the restricitons of prohibited substances, and there are sites etc. available should there be any doubts. If in doubt, don’t take it.
    The REAL problem here isn’t that Saad, CLarke etcgot done. It’s the bigger fish that don’t get pursued – Essendon, a particular star AFL forward, particular tennis persons etc. Lack of will, and we don’t want to upset the ‘stars’ and ‘glamour teams’ of the competition.

  3. Cat from the Country says:

    Seems to me good old water is the only way to go. Been around longer than these insidious “energy” drinks, which is just another way to make impressionable people part with their money.

    I don’t know if anyone getting banned for drinking water!

    Our heros in the past reached their peak on water (and probably beer, but that is not a banned substsnce is it?)

    How about all athletes giving up energy drinks as most of them are missused!

  4. Spot on, Rabid Dog – it’s the double standard that I find really offensive. The powers that be have decreed that Saad is expendable, as opposed to a certain glamour club that they want to maintain as competitive and continue scheduling them in prime-time.

    The fact that the AFL can do this, and simultaneously have their own “Integrity Unit”, just underlines the mugs that they take us all for.

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