City:Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand's eight-month ban for missing a drugs test remains intact after his appeal was rejected on Thursday. A three-man independent appeal board, which heard the England international's case at a Heathrow Airport hotel in west London, dismissed Ferdinand's appeal and upheld his conviction but said his failure to take the test was not "drug-related". Ferdinand, the world's most expensive defender, began his suspension on January 20 after missing the test at United's Carrington training ground in September- he will therefore not be able to play again until September 20, ruling him out of the rest of the current season and the 2004 European Championships in Portugal. Nick Barron, the independent appeal spokesman, announced the board's decision late on Thursday afternoon. Having expressed his own hope that Ferdinand may get a reduction in his punishment, England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson is sure to be dismayed. Ferdinand will now take advice on the issue before deciding whether to push the matter further, although how much leniency the defender can expect is open to question with the Court of Arbitration based in Switzerland, the powerbase of FIFA president Sepp Blatter. Ferdinand's dreams of playing in Portugal for his country this summer now appear to be over.