England and Manchester United soccer star Rio Ferdinand is awaiting discipline over failure to stay after training for a random drug test. The mood in England is that the laxity of the testing process - in which Ferdinand is not accompanied by a drug-testing official at all times - rather than personal responsibility of the player is to blame. Apparently Ferdinand needed to be at an appointment after training and left the venue without waiting around to get his drug sample. He fronted for a test within 48 hours which was negative. This kind of procedure would not have happened under Australian (ASDA) conditions. If a player failed to provide a sample at a scheduled test, it would probably warrant a six to twelve month suspension in most sports. Although it was almost certain that Ferdinand was not using anabolic steroids (which don't generally clear within 48 hours), it is theoretically possible that he may have knowingly skipped the test because he believed he may have had another banned drug in his system. Given the discipline handed down by cricket in the Shane Warne case and the embarrassment that USA Track & Field has recently suffered because of lax penalties, the FA will come under pressure to suspend Ferdinand. However, he will argue that the drug testing procedure was flawed in that he was allowed to leave the venue without anyone speaking to him. The credibility of the FA is already shaky given the poor testing protocol, but it will suffer further if it allows a player to walk away from a mandatory test without penalty.
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