Rio Ferdinand admits he is stunned by the FA appeal panel’s decision to uphold his eight-month ban for missing a drugs test.

The Manchester United defender will miss the rest of the season as well as England’s EURO 2004 campaign. The defender will also miss England’s first two World Cup qualifiers against Poland and Austria in September and will not be eligible to play again until September 20.

“I’m absolutely devastated at this verdict,” he told the Sun newspaper.

“The main thing keeping me going has been the possibility of playing again this season. This verdict has taken that hope away from me.”

Ferdinand, 25, had hoped that he had proved that his failure to take the test was not due to the fact that he had taken drugs. Hair follicles showing that Ferdinand had not taken any banned substance were produced but the appeals committee were unswayed by the evidence.

“I won’t feel happy until I’m back in competitive football,” he added.

“At the end of the day I am a footballer and I want to play football for a living.”

A Manchester United statement said: “We are disappointed given the nature of the appeal.

“As the detailed judgement has not yet been received, it is impossible at this stage for the club to make any further comment.”