Lima (AFP) – Peru captain Paolo Guerrero on Tuesday hit out the “injustice” of a 14-month doping ban that has ended his dream of appearing at the World Cup in Russia.
“I’m a victim of injustice,” said Guerrero in Lima Tuesday, a day after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland increased a six-month ban for testing positive for traces of cocaine to 14 months.
“I didn’t expect it, I’m sad I won’t be playing. They’ve taken my dream away from me.”
Guerrero, who plays as a striker for Brazilian giants Flamengo, had been included in Peru’s preliminary 25-man World Cup squad announced on Sunday.
But less than a week after he attended a CAS hearing in Lausanne hoping to totally annul a six-month suspension, world sport’s top arbitration court increased his sentence to 14 months.
Not only is Guerrero ruled out of the World Cup, but the emblematic skipper will be sidelined until January 2019.
“I’m sad but I’ve come here to face things, because there have been a lot of rumours. I’m a victim of injustice,” Guerrero said in Lima Tuesday where he was met by hundreds of well-wishers shouting his name and offering messages of support.
“I’m 100 per cent behind the team (Peru). In the good times, and the bad.”
Guerrero was initially banned for one year after traces of the drug, which is on the banned list of the World Anti-Doping Agency, were found in a sample following a World Cup qualifier against Argentina on October 5 last year.
World football’s ruling body FIFA reduced the ban to six months on appeal last December. That ban ended on May 3, making Guerrero eligible to play at the June 14-July 15 World Cup in Russia.
The emblematic Peru captain, however, wanted the ban annulled.
He arrived at a CAS hearing last week flanked by lawyers to be met by around 30 flag-waving well-wishers and supporters shouting “You can do it, Paolo!!”
But WADA effectively retaliated, appealing to CAS to uphold their original sanction.
CAS noted on Monday: “Both the Player and WADA filed appeals at the CAS. Paolo Guerrero sought to have the FIFA Decision set aside and replaced by a new decision in which no sanction was imposed on him.
“WADA, on the other hand, had requested that the FIFA decision be set aside and that Paolo Guerrero be sanctioned with a period of ineligibility between 1 and 2 years with an expressed preference for 22 months.”