Guerrero cleared to play in World Cup after doping ban halved
Lima: Peru captain Paolo Guerrero is free to play in next year's World Cup after his appeal against a one-year doping ban was partially upheld.
The 33-year-old's penalty was reduced to six months by the appeal committee for world football governing body FIFA, meaning he will be eligible to return in May, reports Xinhua news agency.
"The FIFA appeal committee after taking into account all the circumstances of the case, in particular the degree of fault of the player, considered a six-month period of ineligibility to be a proportionate sanction," FIFA said in a statement on Wednesday.
The ruling came less than two weeks after Guerrero was banned by FIFA's disciplinary committee until November 2018 after testing positive for cocaine metabolite benzoylecgonine. Guerrero, who plays his club football for Brazil's Flamengo, tested positive to the stimulant after Peru's World Cup qualifier against Argentina in Buenos Aires on October 5.
The striker was given a provisional ban on November 4, forcing him out of Peru's World Cup intercontinental playoff against New Zealand. Peru's victory over two legs earned the country its first World Cup berth since 1982.
Guerrero denied using cocaine or drinking coca tea, claiming he was a victim of food or drink contamination.
Despite Wednesday's decision, the former Bayern Munich player plans to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in a bid to overturn the sentence completely. "We will appeal to the CAS as soon as possible, as soon as we have the reasons for this decision," Guerrero's lawyer Pedro Fida told Peruvian radio station RPP. "There is no chance that the CAS increases the suspension, but it will allow us to try to get an acquittal," he added.