Peru captain Paolo Guerrero is set to miss out on the country’s first FIFA World Cup Finals berth since 1982. Guerrero, 34, was originally served a suspension by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for consumption of a banned substance.
Peru famously qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup through the inter-confederation play-offs in November. A two-legged defeat of New Zealand, preceded by a 5th-place CONMEBOL finish, was enough for the South American side to qualify for the nation’s first World Cup Finals since 1982.
But they are preparing to play without their star forward, Flamengo’s Paolo Guerrero. Guerrero, 34, was originally served a 14-month ban for testing positive for benzoylecgonine (cocaine substance) after a World Cup qualifying game against Argentina in October. The substance ban was the result of a contaminated tea, which reduced the ban to six months – just enough time before June’s FIFA World Cup.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport had other ideas.
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The CAS upheld WADA’s appeal for a 14-month suspension last week. Therefore, Guerrero is ineligible to represent his country this summer. The seemingly harsh ban has prompted reform action from the global footballers’ union.
Moreover, Peru’s FIFA World Cup Group C opponents have spoken out as well. The captains of France (Hugo Lloris), Denmark (Simon Kjaer), and Australia (Aston Villa’s Mile Jedinak) penned an open letter asking for clemency on Guerrero’s behalf.
It takes a degree of courage to put one’s name out there, and Jedinak did just that. The Bearded One is set-up for an extremely busy, emotional six weeks. He’s a likely starter for Aston Villa in the play-off final on Saturday and a shoe-in starter for the Socceroos’ 3 World Cup group stage matches.