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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 October, 2003, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
Ferdinand dropped over drug row
Ferdinand has 33 international caps
To be left out of the squad at this crucial stage is devastating
Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand has been left out of England's squad for their crucial Euro 2004 qualifying match in Turkey.

The Football Association confirmed on Tuesday that the 24-year-old defender had been dropped pending an investigation into his failure to attend a routine drugs test.

Ferdinand has denied ever using drugs and his club, Manchester United, are unhappy with the decision, claiming he should have been allowed to continue playing until the outcome of any possible disciplinary hearing.

"I am absolutely devastated by this situation and I want to take this opportunity to categorically state that I have never used drugs or condoned the use of drugs in sport or in society," said Ferdinand.

"I have been routinely tested like all players throughout my career and the results have always been the same: negative, like the most recent test.

"The biggest disappointment is not being picked for England for a game which is so important not only to myself, but also the team and the England fans.

"I have worked hard from a young age to get where I am and to be left out of the squad at this crucial stage is devastating.

"I would like to express my gratitude for all the support I am getting from my family and friends, Sir Alex and everyone else at Manchester United and the PFA."

However, the FA insist they have made the right move, even if it robs coach Sven-Goran Eriksson of one of his key players ahead of the game in Istanbul, which England need to draw to secure qualification to the finals.

"Given the seriousness with which the FA regards its anti-doping policy, it was inappropriate for him to be available for selection at this time," said FA director of communications Paul Barber.

We think the FA's decision not to select Rio for England is wrong for the player and wrong for the country
Manchester United
chief executive David Gill

Ferdinand claims he forgot to attend a pre-arranged appointment with testers at Manchester United's Carrington training ground on 23 September.

But United claim he took and passed a test 36 hours later.

And their chief executive, David Gill, says Ferdinand should have been selected for this weekend's game in Istanbul.

"We think the FA's decision not to select Rio for England is wrong for the player and wrong for the country. As a consequence, we will be vigorously pursuing our concerns about the matter in due course."

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor also hit out at the FA's treatment of Ferdinand.

Taylor told BBC Radio Five Live: "There is a due process but they made a decision which I feel is a breach of confidentiality according to their own rules.

23 September: Ferdinand misses a pre-arranged doping test at Man Utd's Carrington training ground
3 October: FA sends letter to Ferdinand informing disciplinary procedures have begun
5 October: FA meets with Ferdinand and PFA to discuss developments
6 October: Sven-Goran Eriksson delays England squad announcement following meeting between FA, Man Utd and Ferdinand
7 October: FA confirms Ferdinand has been dropped from England squad

"It means they are naming and shaming him and that goes against their own policy."

Drugs testing policy usually prevents disclosure of a player's identity until he is proven guilty and a punishment has been decided.

But Taylor added: "I was given the impression on Sunday night that the FA had made their minds up not to select him for the England squad, and I find that disgraceful."

The controversy surrounding Ferdinand is believed to be the reason why Eriksson delayed naming his squad for the match against Turkey.

It is understood that Ferdinand forgot to attend the test because he was moving house the same day.

But he could still face a two-year-ban, the maximum penalty allowed for a technical breach of anti-drugs laws endorsed by Fifa and Uefa.

The BBC's Adam Parsons
"Britain's most expensive player - dropped by his country"

FA director of communications Paul Barber
"Ferdinand will be interviewed next week"

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor
"We're not happy about it and neither are the club or the player"

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