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Ferdinand banned for eight months

Ferdinand will miss Euro 2004 after being handed an eight-month ban
Ferdinand will miss Euro 2004 after being handed an eight-month ban

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BOLTON, England -- Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has been handed an eight-month ban for missing a drugs test three months ago.

The 25-year-old England international had been charged by the English Football Association with a "failure or refusal" to take the test at United's training ground on September 23.

The ban means Ferdinand will miss next year's European Championship in Portugal, and the last four months of the Premier League season and United's Champions League campaign.

Following a two-day hearing, an FA commission spokesman read out a statement saying: "The disciplinary commission unanimously found that the charge was proved against Rio Ferdinand.

"It was further decided he would be suspended for a period of eight months with effect from Monday 12th January 2004 and be fined the sum of 50,000.

"Having requested a personal hearing, he was ordered to pay the full cost of the hearing. Such decisions are subject to the rights of appeal."

United have already said they will appeal within the next 14 days, with director and club lawyer Maurice Watkins releasing the following statement: "We are extremely disappointed by the result of this case and in particular by the savage and unprecedented sentence which makes an appeal inevitable.

"I can confirm that Rio has the full support of Manchester United and the PFA. There will be no further comment at this stage."

Ferdinand has denied using drugs and passed a dope test 36 hours after he should have taken the original one.

The FA ruled him out of England's final Euro 2004 qualifier in Turkey on October 11, sparking a furious protest by his international team mates, but allowed him to keep playing for United, a decision criticised by FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

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