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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 March, 2004, 18:00 GMT
Ferdinand ban upheld
Rio Ferdinand
Ferdinand will miss the rest of the season and Euro 2004
Rio Ferdinand's eight-month ban for failing to attend a drugs test remains the same after his appeal hearing.

An independent three-man panel ruled that Ferdinand should remain suspended until 20 September - missing Euro 2004.

"Rio is naturally very disappointed. We believe the suspension was unduly harsh and unprecedented," said Manchester United lawyer Maurice Watkins.

The England defender was originally banned and fined 50,000 in December - a punishment United said was "savage".

However, both the Football Association and Fifa wanted the panel to increase the suspension to 12 months.

The panel decided not to alter the ban, and was content that Ferdinand had not missed the test to avoid detection for a banned substance.

If the ban is still in place then he will not be able to play [in America], but he will be training
David Gill
Man Utd chief executive

"In reaching its conclusion, the appeal board has discounted the possibility that Mr Ferdinand's reasons for not taking the test were drugs related," said appeals panel spokesman Nick Barron.

A Fifa spokesman added: "Fifa is happy that the case is now closed. We will still expect the FA to us send us the files so we can see how the procedure was carried out."

The panel, headed by independent QC Ian Mill and also with FA chairman Geoff Thompson and FA councillor Roger Burden retired to consider its verdict at 1515 GMT, with the verdict announced just before 1800 GMT.

While there is no room for further appeal through the FA, if Ferdinand still wishes to fight the outcome of the second hearing, he could take his case to the Sports Arbitrational Panel in Switzerland.

United were top of the Premiership and with the league's best defensive record when Ferdinand started his suspension.

But they have slipped to third in the Premiership and are now 12 points behind leaders Arsenal.

Manchester United chief executive David Gill maintained Ferdinand would be part of the club's summer tour to America, even if he would be unable to play in matches.

"He will certainly be on the trip," he said.

"If the ban is still in place then he will not be able to play, but he will be training with the team and will be doing any of the community activities that we have in mind."


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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