ST KILDA has pledged to support Ahmed Saad through his 18-month suspension, despite not selecting him in Wednesday's NAB AFL Rookie Draft.
On Tuesday, Saad accepted an 18-month suspension from an AFL Tribunal for taking a prohibited stimulant earlier this year.
The Saints released a statement that night saying they would continue to "provide the appropriate welfare support and assistance" to Saad while he served his ban.
There was a chance they would retain Saad as a rookie given he would be eligible to return to the competition ahead of the 2015 season, with the suspension backdated from August this year.
Saad had continued to train with the club in the hope of that opportunity before the sanction was handed down.
But the Saints elected to recruit Tasmanian Eli Templeton and Gold Coast midfielder Maverick Weller in the rookie draft, and confirm the two-year international rookie contract offered to US-born Jason Holmes with their third pick.
"Saad understands and accepts the club's decision and he will continue to receive ongoing support and assistance from the club while he serves his 18 month suspension," a statement released by the club said on Wednesday evening.
"The 24-year-old's welfare is of paramount importance and he will be in regular contact with St Kilda Football Club on this basis as he strives to return to the AFL for the 2015 season."
Saad, who signed a two-year contract extension in March this year, failed a post-match drug test in July.
He consumed a substance registered on the AFL's anti-doping banned list, believed to be a stimulant contained in the Viking Protein sports drink, 'Before Battle'.
He has previously been linked to Viking Protein in an ambassadorial role.
He was delisted by the club two weeks ago and faced an AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal in early November.
Saad continued to train as the Saints started pre-season under new coach Alan Richardson but did not travel with the group to Colorado on Tuesday.
In an earlier interview on St Kilda's website, Saad remained defiant, saying: "This doesn't mean my footy career is over, whatsoever."
Saad made his debut in round six, 2012, against Hawthorn at the MCG, and has played 29 games for the club.
He was the first player of Egyptian background to be on an AFL playing list.
His hearing was chaired by AFL Tribunal chairman David Jones, who was joined on the committee by Dr Susan White, a sports physician from the Australian Sports Drug Medical Advisory Committee, and former player Wayne Henwood, who is a member of the AFL Tribunal panel.
Saad is the first player to test positive for a banned substance this year despite the extensive investigation into Essendon's supplements program.
The result of that investigation by ASADA and the AFL resulted in Essendon being kicked out of this year's finals and senior coach James Hird receiving a 12-month suspension. Essendon was also fined $2million.
Ahmed Saad feels the wrath of Lions supporters while lining up for goal in round 19. Picture: AFL Media