Sat, Nov 01, 2003 - Page 18 News List

Ferdinand facing suspension fears

AP , LONDON

England and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand could still be facing a lengthy suspension.

The English Football Association, which charged him with misconduct for missing a drug test, said on Thursday he could face a maximum two-year ban but a several-month suspension was more likely.

Reports on Wednesday when the FA announced the charges suggested Ferdinand had avoided the more serious charge of "willfully" missing a drug test on Sept. 23.

He said he "forgot" and was busy that day moving to another house.

The FA said it believes it has sufficient evidence to show at an upcoming hearing that Ferdinand refused to submit to testing.

The FA said it could have charged Ferdinand with the lesser "failure to submit" to a test but chose instead the tougher "failure or refusal to submit" charge.

An FA spokesman said the phrasing "willfully" appears in a part of its doping regulations that "does not apply in this case and generated the confusion."

Manchester United has requested a personal hearing for Ferdinand, which could take place early in November. His case will be heard by a three-member disciplinary commission, which will judge the case and assess the penalty.

Ferdinand is free to play for Man United in the meantime, but the FA said Thursday he would not be picked for international play pending resolution of the case.

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