Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

ENGLAND DROP RIO; [Pounds Sterling]30m Star Axed for Missing Drugs Test ;Pictured Shopping When Sample Was Due

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

ENGLAND DROP RIO; [Pounds Sterling]30m Star Axed for Missing Drugs Test ;Pictured Shopping When Sample Was Due

Article excerpt

Byline: KEN DYER

RIO FERDINAND was today dropped from England's crucial match against Turkey for failing to take a compulsory drugs test.

The decision was taken by Sven-Goran Eriksson under orders from the Football Association.

The star defender also looks likely to be charged by the FA with failing to take the random test.

This could lead to a ban of up to two years for a player who cost Manchester United [pounds sterling]30 million.

The 24-year-old, who earns [pounds sterling]100,000 a week, said he was preoccupied with moving house and forgot to take the test after a club training session - though he was photographed shopping in Manchester hours later.

He was one of four United playersrequired to take a test on 23 September, the FA said today. It is understood he is the only one who failed to comply.

England players including injured striker Michael Owen reported for international duty at the FA's training base in St Albans this afternoon.

Ferdinand was believed to be at his new [pounds sterling]2million Cheshire home.

Dropping Ferdinand is the latest blow for the England squad following allegations of gang rape with which midfielder Kieron Dyer, who is also in the 23-man England squad, has been indirectly associated.

The move comes just before England's final group match in Istanbul on Saturday.

England need to avoid defeat to qualify for next year's European Championships. Eriksson today admitted that it was "a pity" for England that he could not select Ferdinand, but said: "It is something I must accept and respect."

Asked if he thought scandals surrounding top players were in danger of bringing the English game into disgrace, he replied: "I hope not."

Although Ferdinand provided a sample which tested negative 36 hours later, his failure to attend when required remains a technical breach of the sport's strict antidrugs code. Crucially, the delay could have allowed traces of some drugs to have passed through his body.

Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, said today: "I was given the impression on Sunday night that the FA had made their minds up not to select him for the England squad. …

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