Last updated : 19 January 2004 By Editor
Press release

‘Manchester United announced today that Rio Ferdinand has
decided to begin his suspension from January 20th following
the findings of the FA’s Disciplinary Commission last month.
The decision follows discussions between the Club, the
player and his lawyers.

‘Whilst Rio Ferdinand accepts that he missed an unannounced
drugs test, and publicly apologises for that, he continues
to maintain that he did not miss the test deliberately and
that he did not have any reason to avoid it.

‘He therefore intends to appeal against the findings and
sanctions imposed by the FA’s Disciplinary Commission last
month. Accordingly, the 30 page Notice of Appeal is being
finalised and will be lodged with the FA on Monday. The Club
respects his decision and will continue to support his

‘Both Manchester United and Rio Ferdinand reiterate their
strong condemnation of the use of drugs in any sport.

‘The Club and the player both play active parts in anti-
drugs campaigns. Rio Ferdinand will both during and
following any period of suspension continue his work in the
communities in the north-west and in his home district in
south east London to combat the abuse of drugs amongst

‘David Gill, Chief Executive of Manchester United, said:
“There are lessons to be learned for all of us from this
episode. Rio recognises that he has made a serious mistake,
which is why he will begin the suspension immediately rather
than wait for the outcome of the appeals procedure. However,
after studying the detailed verdict from the Commission, we
are convinced the player has a strong case to challenge both
the verdict and the ban given the player’s full explanation
to the Commission of the circumstances surrounding his
failure to take the drugs test. We recognise our own
responsibilities in this matter and our important role in
fighting the abuse of drugs in football and society at

‘Rio Ferdinand said: “I would like to apologise for my
oversight in missing my drugs test. I have previously made
it clear that I condemn the use of drugs in any
circumstances but especially in sport and I intend to
continue helping to spread this message during and after any
period of suspension that I have to serve. I do feel
strongly that I have given an honest account of the
circumstances which led to my mistake and I believe that the
verdict and the ban are wrong. I want to get back playing
for Manchester United and England as soon as possible and if
starting the suspension now will help then I am prepared to
suffer it. I would like to thank all those people who have
offered me their support during the last few months.”’

Fergie also spoke out to back his appeal, saying on MUTV:

“It was a club decision but it is the right thing to do. I
would imagine the Football Association want to chase this
thing along, so the hearing should be pretty soon, possibly
within the next 10 days or so, in which case we will be
prepared for it.”