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Last Updated: Friday, 19 March, 2004, 07:32 GMT
Ferdinand: I'm devastated
Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand said he was stunned by an appeal panel's decision to uphold his eight-month ban for missing a mandatory drugs test.

He remains banned until 20 September, and misses the rest of Manchester United's season and Euro 2004.

"I'm absolutely devastated at this verdict," he told the Sun newspaper.

"The main thing keeping me going has been the possibility of playing again this season. This verdict has taken that hope away from me."

I am a footballer and I want to play football for a living
Rio Ferdinand

Ferdinand, 25, had hoped that evidence he had not missed the test in order to avoid detection for a banned substance would count in his favour.

However, while the three-man appeal panel agreed with Ferdinand, it decided not to reduce his punishment.

The defender will also miss England's first two World Cup qualifiers against Poland and Austria in September.

"I won't feel happy until I'm back in competitive football," he said.

"At the end of the day I am a footballer and I want to play football for a living."

A Manchester United statement said: "We are disappointed given the nature of the appeal.

"As the detailed judgement has not yet been received, it is impossible at this stage for the club to make any further comment."


WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Sport's Gordon Farquhar
"Ferdinand won't be taking any part in Euro 2004"


FA spokesman Nick Barron
"Mr Ferdinand will remain suspended until 20th September"



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