Firstly, Ferdinand was stupid. If you are a professional sportsman you simply can't forget to turn up for your drug test. It would be like one of us forgetting about their appraisal, or interview, or disciplinary. You just can't do it.
Secondly, having forgotten and then offering to come in probably is no use, because the testers will be off to do their next one. A retest 36 hours later is no use, if he had been taking drugs they would have dissipated, which is precisely why these test are random.
Thirdly, United could have, and should have, ensured that he was there.
Having failed to do all of this, the FA
had a problem. Think about it, if Ferdinand played on Saturday and scored the winning goal, or made a match saving tackle or clearance, can you imagine what the Turkish reaction would be? They'd go nuts, complain to UEFA
and the game would probably either be replayed, or even awarded to Turkey.
had no choice at all - they HAD to withdraw him from the side.
Moving on to the England players reaction, it seems to me that they are trying to defend unprofessional behaviour by Ferdinand. They are not bigger than England, and they should just get on with it. End of story. If they boycotted the match (and they won't) then England will at the very least forfeit the match, and more likely will be ejected from Euro 2004. If that happens, how much public sympathy will they get? Not to mention all of their international careers are over. The FA
should call their bluff.
Now, I do sympathise with Rio, he's just made a mistake. But it has to be remembered that it is a BIG mistake. Think about it, if a 100m runner did this, there'd be uproar, and they would get banned, regardless of whether or not it was an error. Ferdinand may well get away with less than that, and if he does, it will be because the FA
acted quickly to defuse what would have been a huge international row had he played.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.