Suspended footballer Ahmed Saad believes his AFL career would have been over if he had been given a two-year ban for taking a stimulant banned on a match day last season.
The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority had pushed hard for the former Saint to receive the maximum 24-month suspension, but Saad was ultimately suspended for 18 months and the 24-year-old was very grateful for that.
“[If the suspension was] 24 months, I think it’s my career over,” Saad told AFL Trade Radio on Thursday. “A coach might take into [account] 18 months might be a bit too long [out of the game], but just imagine 24 months, which is really two seasons of football.
“So I guess it would be pretty hard from there to try and get back in and have that hope, but I’m pretty thankful it didn’t go down that path and it’s 18 months, which is a season and hopefully [I’ll] get back in.”
Saad insisted he was better placed to have an impact than a player recovering from a long-term injury.
“Being out of the game for 18 months, realistically it’s just a season,” he said. “Players do their knee and have to go through rehab for the next 18 months.
“I’m fit, I’m ready to go right now. I haven’t been injured, I’ve been training since I’ve been banned so in that case they don’t really have to worry about that and of course I’m hungrier probably more than ever.
“I want it more than I wanted it at the beginning because I’ve had a taste of AFL footy, I’ve had a taste of being in that environment and that lifestyle and playing in front of a big crowd and there’s nothing like it.”
While he wasn’t sure about which of the three drafts he would be selected from, or if he will be thrown a lifeline at all, the 29-gamer said it would “mean a lot” to get another crack at senior footy.
“It was a dream of mine to get drafted in the first place and for it to be taken away from me in the way that it was, it was pretty tough to deal with at the start knowing that my career could have been over,” Saad said.
“There’s nothing that I want more than to get back into playing AFL footy and I’m doing everything I can to give myself that best chance.”
Saad said he would like to go back to St Kilda but he was prepared to play anywhere next season.
“There’s been no commitment from any club, which is why I can’t really close any doors, I’m not in a position to do that,” he said.
“My main aim is to get back playing AFL footy. Of course it would be good to go back to the Saints.
“My manager has spoken to a couple of clubs, we’ve had a fair bit of interest, which is good, and that’s something that keeps me motivated to push myself even harder.”
Saad could start training with an AFL club on January 1 and said he would make sure he was fit enough to hit the ground running by then.
But he won’t be doing it at Richmond after the club’s football manager Dan Richardson ruled the Tigers out on AFL Trade Radio on Thursday.
Richardson also said Richmond wasn’t pursuing Mitch Robinson or Jeff Garlett from Carlton.
He did admit the Tigers were interested in recruiting Levi Greenwood, but didn’t expect him to leave North Melbourne.
Richardson insisted that Ty Vickery was not up for trade.
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