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Football: THE INS AND OUTS OF THE MOMENTOUS INQUIRY.

Byline: DAVID McDONNELL

TODAY, 10AM: Ferdinand and his legal team, led by Ronald Thwaites QC and United's lawyer Maurice Watkins, arrive at Bolton's Reebok Stadium for two-day trial along with FA team, led by lawyer Mark Gay and including FA head of compliance unit Steve Barrow, plus FA three-man commission, led by head of discipline Barry Bright.

11AM: Hearing begins, with FA outlining their case for charging Ferdinand with misconduct for missing the random drugs test at United's training ground on September 23. FA will call as witnesses the UK Sport drugs testers meant to carry out Ferdinand's test for their version of events, specifically the time-scale of their procedures. UK Sport testers will be cross-examined by Thwaites, who will focus on the allegation Ferdinand offered to return to take the test but was told by the testers he was outside the time-scale to do so.

1PM - Lunch.

2PM - Hearing reconvenes with Gay expected to continue giving evidence and then take questions from three-man disciplinary panel.

TOMORROW, 11AM: Hearing reconvenes with Thwaites outlining the player's reasons for not undertaking the test. Ferdinand expected to be called to give evidence by Thwaites, with the England star subjected to a rigorous cross- examination by Gay on behalf of the FA. United club doctor Mike Stone, who tried to reach Ferdinand by telephone the day he skipped the test, expected to explain the chronology of events. Stone will be cross-examined by the FA and asked to give exact details and times of the calls he made in an effort to ensure Ferdinand returned to take the test.

1PM - Lunch.

2PM - Hearing reconvenes with Manchester City midfielder Eyal Berkovic, who claimed to be with Ferdinand in the hours following the missed drugs test, expected to give evidence. Character-witness statements in support of Ferdinand from England boss Sven Goran Eriksson and United boss Sir Alex Ferguson will be read to the commission.

4PM - Both parties sum up their cases for the commission, who will retire to consider their verdict.

6PM - Commission return with their verdict which could decide the future of Ferdinand's career.

* When this is announced to the parties, Ferdinand's team will then have 14 days to appeal against any punishment.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 18, 2003
Words:367
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