Ferdinand to learn outcome of missed test

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Rio Ferdinand is likely to learn tomorrow what charges he is to face after his missed drugs test, while today his case will be debated by the world game's governing body, Fifa.

Ferdinand's failure to take a routine test at Manchester United's training headquarters at Carrington on 23 September is to be examined by Fifa's sports medical committee, although it will take no action until the Football Association has reached its own verdict.

The United defender could be charged with either wilfully missing a test, which carries a penalty of a two-year ban, or face the lesser offence of missing a drugs test, for which he could be fined or suspended.

The FA's compliance officer, Steve Borrow, interviewed Ferdinand on 12 October, the day after England's European Championship qualifier with Turkey, for which he was dropped, and his mobile phone records have been examined.

The FA's decision will be posted on its website, probably tomorrow, although this will mark only the beginning of a long, drawn-out process which is likely to drag on for many months and run up considerable legal fees.

Fifa has taken a keen interest in the Ferdinand affair, amid reports that it has exerted pressure on the FA to maintain a firm stance against United.

Following allegations of its widespread use in athletics by runners such as the European 100 metres champion, Dwain Chambers, the sports medical committee will also be examining the possible use in football of the previously undetectable steroid, tetrahydrogestrinone. Chambers has insisted he was unaware that he may have been ingesting THG.

The committee's chairman, Michel D'Hooghe, said before the meeting in Zurich: "I cannot say what will be the final decision but the case of Rio Ferdinand is among a number of matters that will be discussed. We will look at the case and how it has been addressed already."

Although he has steadfastly refused to comment on the Ferdinand case, the Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, used his notes in Saturday's matchday programme to state that any of his players found taking any kind of drug would be "quickly gone from Manchester United". Ferguson made it clear that this would be the case whether the drugs were recreational or performance-enhancing.

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