Winger Fahad al-Muwallad will be dropped as a precaution due to an ongoing case over a positive drugs test in February, the Saudi team announced Sunday.
“After reviewing the latest developments in the WADA appeal and following consultations with Saudi lawyers, coach Herve Renard had decided to exclude Al-Muwallad as a precautionary measure,” a statement said from the team’s social media channels.
The 28-year-old, who plays for Saudi club side Al-Shabab, tested positive in February for the banned drug furosemide.
Al-Muwallad was banned for 18 months by Saudi anti-doping authorities since Furosemide is used as a masking agent to prevent the detection of anabolic steroids.
The World Anti-Doping Agency confirmed on Sunday it had interfered before the Saudi squad was selected.
“WADA has appealed the case to CAS (the Court of Arbitration for Sport) seeking a longer period of ineligibility,” the agency said in a statement.
Coach Renard has called 32-year-old Nawaf al-Abed to take the place of Al-Muwallad.
Ironically Al-Abed was also suspended in 2019 over a previous doping case.
Sami Al-Jaber, a former Saudi Arabian football player, tweeted out support for Al-Abed after the announcement was made.
“Nawaf Al-Abed is one of the biggest talents. It passed on Saudi football. Fate wanted us not to enjoy it in the 2018 World Cup due to injury, and we are happy to return to the 2022 World Cup squad. Great fairness, and we bet on his experience and capabilities,” Al-Jaber wrote.
The former footballer also spoke on al-Muwallad, thanking him for his efforts.
“Thank you, Captain Fahad al-Muwallad, you gave your country everything, and we await your return soon,” Al-Jaber added.
Goalkeepers: Muhammad Al-Owais (Al-Hilal), Muhammad Al-Yami (Al-Ahly), Nawaf Al-Aqidi (Al-Nasr).
Defence: Sultan Al-Ghannam, Abdullah Al-Omari, Abdullah Mado (Al-Nasr), Muhammad Al-Buraik, Ali Al-Bulayhi, Saud Abdul-Hamid and Yasser Al-Shahrani (Al-Hilal), Hassan Al-Tumbukti (Al-Shabab).
Midfielders: Salman Al-Faraj, Salem Al-Dosari, Muhammad Kanno, Nasser Al-Dosari, Abdullah Atif, Abdullah Al-Maliki (Al-Hilal), Abdul Rahman Al-Aboud (Al-Ittihad), Sami Al-Naji and Ali Al-Hassan (Al-Nasr), Hattan Bahbari (Al-Shabab), Riyad Sharahili (Abha), Nawaf Al-Abed (Al-Shabab)
Attackers: Saleh Al-Shehri (Al-Hilal), Firas Al-Buraikan (Al-Fateh), Haitham Asiri (Al-Ahly).