Chelsea chief Gourlay explains keeping Terry as club captain
Terry decided this week not to appeal the decision, leaving Chelsea to decide what action of their own to take.
Gourlay argued Terry's long service to Chelsea should also be taken into account but condemned his behaviour in the Ferdinand incident.
He said: "What you've got to take into consideration as well is that John's played over 550 times for the football club, he's captained the side over 400 times, he's led the club and the team tremendously well during these games.
"We believe this was an error of judgment, it was out of character for John. He did fall below the high standards we expect at the club. The language used on the day, whatever the context, was wrong. We've come down on John very, very heavily.
"We are not sweeping this under the carpet. We have had to deal with this for the last 12 months. John let himself down, he let the club down, the words were inappropriate that he used."
Asked if Chelsea should have sacked Terry to send a clear signal that the club takes a zero tolerance stance on racism, Gourlay said: "We haven't tolerated the language that John Terry used. We've said it was not acceptable and we have taken action.
"We don't believe for one minute that John is a racist and we must not forget that he was cleared in a court of law. We have taken action and we hope it gives out a clear signal that it is not acceptable.
"We know that not everybody is going to agree with this decision but we have tried to focus on improving and on doing better. The club is disappointed, the player is disappointed we are all disappointed and we have got to put things right."