Taylor: 'I think it's very conciliatory'

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The Independent Football

Rio Ferdinand's decision to begin his eight-month ban for missing a drugs test has been welcomed as "very conciliatory" by the players' union chief, Gordon Taylor.

The Professional Footballers' Association chief executive said: "I think it's very conciliatory. From our point of view he's made it clear that he genuinely did forget and that's why we felt the sentence was quite draconian. There are players who have tested positive and received shorter sentences so from that point of view any reasonable person would accept the penalty was high or severe."

Frank Stapleton, the former Manchester United striker, believes Ferdinand had no option but to appeal against his ban in order to safeguard his reputation. He said it was important for a player of Ferdinand's stature, who has always maintained an anti-drugs stance, to be seen to have been treated fairly.

"If I was in his situation I would feel hard done-by knowing I had not taken drugs and got a ban of eight months," he said. "He has already been hung, drawn and quartered by the press and if he is to come out of this with his name intact he has to do it [appeal]. He has said he has not taken drugs so it is down to them to prove that he has and they haven't done that."

Stapleton also said the decision to start Ferdinand's ban with immediate effect while his appeal was heard could be a good move by United, who have Wes Brown coming back into contention after a long injury lay-off. "It is a situation where it has worked very well for the club with Wes Brown coming back and they may feel they can do without the player," he said.

"The club have only got to look out for themselves and look at Champions' League and championship, and they are the people that pay his wages. But by the time the appeal goes through he could have served a lot of the ban - whatever it may be.

"It is surprising he is to accept the ban from next week but maybe the club felt he was under too much pressure to perform. But from when we learned about the ban until now he has been playing better than at any other time in his United career."

The former United defender Clayton Blackmore agreed it was a good move to begin the ban from its original starting date. "It is a good idea and when they put the appeal in, all it needs is for a bit of common sense from the FA. If they bring it [the ban] down to three or four months then he will also be fit for England [at Euro 2004].

"There are a lot of grey areas with the FA - they have got to look at the way it has been handled," Blackmore added. "They have got to look at it to make sure it does not happen again."