The ban is the longest in Budweiser League history, and dates from March this year when Saunders played for Chester Jets and tested positive in a random check. But the ban is suspended from January 1998 if Saunders satisfies various conditions.
He must make himself available for random drug tests whenever required, continue with a programme of rehabilitation and counselling and take part in drugs awareness programmes and presentations organised by both the League and the EBA.
The EBA administrator, Andrew Matthews, said: "Russ indicated he will be very happy to do so. He's very remorseful about the incident and feels he has let the sport down."
Saunders, born in Brooklyn, joined Birmingham in 1982, was the League's Player of the Year in 1983 and 1995 and has been on seven League all-star teams.