Despite public outcry and scant evidence, Peru's Paolo Guerrero will likely miss World Cup

Peru captain Paolo Guerrero at an appeal hearing in early May. (AP)
Peru captain Paolo Guerrero at an appeal hearing in early May. (AP)

In spite of efforts to have him reinstated in time to play, Peru captain and striker Paolo Guerrero will likely serve the duration of his 14-month suspension for testing positive for the metabolite benzoylecgonine, forcing him to sit out the World Cup in June.

After the Court for Arbitration in Sport handed Guerrero a year-long suspension in December of 2017, FIFA reduced it to six months – only to have CAS re-up it to 14 months last week after establishing he was at fault for the positive test, which triggers an automatic one- to two-year suspension under FIFA’s rules.

Though benzoylecgonine is also the primary metabolite found in cocaine, Guerrero alleges that the positive test stemmed from drinking a tea commonly used to cure illnesses in South America, which contained remnants of coca, a native plant used as a mild stimulant, like coffee.

Rival captains come together in support

Rival players and fans alike are now rallying behind Guerrero, a 14-year veteran of the League. Monday, on behalf of FIFPro, French team captain Hugo Lloris, Australian captain Mile Jedinak, and Danish captain Simon Kjær advocated to the FIFA Council for Guerrero’s reinstatement to the League:

The captains pleaded to the Council for a “temporary interruption” of the suspension, asking for them to “show compassion with Paolo Guerrero who has given his utmost for his national team since 2004 and has recently achieved one of the highest possible honors for any national team; qualifying for the FIFA World Cup.”

Additionally, fans in Peru held a rally last weekend to show their support.

Is there any hope left for Guerrero?

While this was happening, Guerrero announced that he would travel to Switzerland to appeal in-person to FIFA President Gianni Infantino. That meeting took place Tuesday afternoon, and as expected, Infantino confirmed that he cannot overturn CAS’s ruling.

The last hope for Guerrero and his team would be to appeal to Switzerland’s Supreme Court, but they would have to do so and win by June 4, FIFA’s deadline to submit World Cup rosters.

At this point, the Peruvian team may be better served to focus on the daunting task that lies ahead: playing in the nation’s first World Cup appearance in 36 years, without its captain.

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