Peru’s Guerrero packs bag for Russia 2018 after drugs ban cut in half

December 21 – Peru captain Paolo Guerrero has had his one-year suspension for failing a drugs test halved to six months, making him eligible to lead out his team at the World Cup next summer – the nation’s first appearance in the finals for 36 years.

Guerrero tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a banned stimulant found in cocaine and on WADA’s prohibited list, shortly after Peru’s 0-0 draw with Argentina in their penultimate South American qualifier on July 5, ruling him out of the two-legged Intercontinental playoff against New Zealand.

Guerrero’s legal defense argued the striker’s positive test was as a result of him drinking a particular tea widely consumed in South America for medicinal purposes and the FIFA appeals Committee ruled the original sanction by FIFA’s disciplinary panel was too harsh and that six months was an proportionate penalty “after taking into account all circumstances of the case.”

Although the reprieve is a massive boost for Peru, where Guerrero is hero-worshipped, six months – backdated to start November 3 and finish in May – is still regarded as unfair by Guerrero’s legal team who  plan to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to have the suspension annulled altogether.

“The World Cup is assured. Now we will go to CAS for no suspension,” Bichara Neto told Brazilian media where 36-year-old Guerrero, who has had spells with both Bayern Munich and Hamburg SV, plays for Flamengo. “We hope that they hear our case by the end of January.”

Another member of his legal team Pedro Fida added: “Guerrero’s case is not about the consumption of cocaine – that has been completely discarded by FIFA. We will keep trying to prove his innocence.”

Guerrero was Peru’s top scorer in World Cup qualifying with six goals and is his country’s all-time leading goal scorer with 32 tallies for the national team.

A legend in his country he also helped Peru finish third in the 2011 and 2015 Copa Americas.

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