UK Sport confirms Ferdinand test timing

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The Independent Football

UK Sport yesterday confirmed that both Manchester United and Rio Ferdinand would have been aware that all players must take drugs tests within an hour of being told they must give a sample, while the Football Association's failure to ban Ferdinand immediately was highlighted by the fate of a German goalkeeper.

Ferdinand's disciplinary hearing for missing a drugs test takes place next week and his legal team are expected to base their defence on a claim that he offered to provide a sample while the testers were still at Manchester United's training ground. However, that is understood to have been two hours after the intended test on 23 September and UK Sport stipulate an hour is the limit.

That information is contained within guidelines sent by UK Sport to all governing bodies for which they carry out drugs tests, and these would have been sent on by the Football Association to all clubs. The guidelines, which are also available on UK Sport's website, clearly state: "Athletes must conduct a test as soon as possible and certainly within an hour of being notified of selection."

Ferdinand's legal advisers have pinpointed the timings of the affair as key and are set to argue he was denied an opportunity to take a drugs test.

The United defender has been charged with misconduct and will appear before an FA disciplinary commission in Bolton on 18 and 19 December.

Unlike Ferdinand, the German Under-20 international goalkeeper Alexander Walke was yesterday suspended from all football by the world governing body, Fifa, after failing a test.

The Werder Bremen keeper tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol, a cannabis metabolite, at the Fifa World Youth Championships in the United Arab Emirates. The German football association and Walke have refused the right to have a B sample tested.

Walke, who played in all three of Germany's group matches, was tested after the game against the United States on 2 December. Germany failed to qualify from the group stages of the tournament.

The Fifa disciplinary committee will deal with Walke's case within the next 30 days.

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