Saudi Arabia pulls player from World Cup over doping case

Sports

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia winger Fahad al-Mowallad was pulled from the World Cup squad on Sunday less than 48 hours after being selected because of an ongoing doping case.

The Saudis’ coach, Hervé Renard, replaced al-Mowallad from his 26-man squad for the tournament in Qatar “as a precaution,” the team said on its Twitter account.

The Saudi Arabian Anti-Doping Committee said in May it suspended the player for 18 months over his positive test in February for the doping substance furosemide. It is a diuretic that has a long-established use in sports doping as a masking agent to hide the presence of other drugs.

Saudi media reports said the 28-year-old al-Mowallad’s ban had been cut which cleared him for selection to play in Qatar, in what would have been his second World Cup.

The World Anti-Doping Agency confirmed Sunday it had intervened in the case 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 Montreal-based agency said in a statement.

Al-Mowallad’s removal from the World Cup came just nine days before the team opens in Group C against Argentina, one of the pre-tournament favorites. Saudi Arabia then plays Poland on Nov. 26 and Mexico on Nov. 30.

The team said Sunday that Renard had called up Nawaf Al-Abed, a club teammate of al-Mowallad at Al-Shabab, in his place.

Al-Mowallad joined Al-Shabab this season after more than a decade at Al-Ittihad, which included a brief spell on loan at Levante in Spain ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

He was part of an agreement between the General Sports Authority (GSA) in Saudi Arabia and La Liga to place national-team players with Spanish clubs and help prepare for the tournament in Russia.

Al-Mowallad played in all three games at the last World Cup where the Saudis finished third in their group, losing to Russia and Uruguay before beating Egypt.

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