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Peru’s Prayers Answered as Paolo Guerrero Gets World Cup Reprieve

Peru’s Prayers Answered as Paolo Guerrero Gets World Cup Reprieve

CAS, while acknowledging Guerrero had received no competitive benefit from the metabolite, agreed with WADA that a longer ban was warranted because he bore some fault for its presence in his system.

In an interview with The New York Times earlier this month, Guerrero spoke of the anguish the case had caused not only him, but also his elderly parents. He vowed to continue fighting to play in the World Cup, no matter the odds, until all legal avenues had been exhausted.

Guerrero traveled to Switzerland last week to meet with FIFA President Gianni Infantino. There he received little more than “deep understanding,” with FIFA insisting the issue was now out of its hands. The last-chance appeal, even as it did not clear Guerrero — it will likely be months before a verdict is reached — cleared the path for him to compete in the tournament when it begins June 14. Peru is grouped with Denmark, France and Australia.

Guerrero’s case has highlighted the challenges facing WADA, which is fighting to restore its reputation in the aftermath of the massive state-sponsored doping program by Russia that corrupted major sports events in recent years. WADA had appealed Guerrero’s reduced ban, arguing it was too lenient. Under WADA’s rules, athletes face bans of between one and two years even, as in the case of Guerrero, if they consumed a prohibited substance accidentally.

Guerrero, separately, appealed the six-month ban, too, vowing to clear his name completely.

His problems began before a series of crucial qualification matches against Argentina and Colombia in October 2017. Before big games, Guerrero said, he suffers stomach cramps and bouts of gastritis; to counter that, he drinks aniseed or apple tea to calm the symptoms.

Before those two matches, he had invited his mother and some friends to the team’s hotel in Lima. There, the group ordered drinks, and Guerrero ordered what he thought was his usual aniseed tea, which he would usually mix by pouring a sachet into a cup of hot water. This time, the tea arrived ready mixed for the group to share out of a jug. The issue, Guerrero said, is the tea might not have been aniseed, but coca-tea, widely consumed across Peru but prohibited to soccer players because it can trigger doping violations.

CAS, sided with WADA, said Guerrero bore “some fault or negligence, even if it was not significant,” as justification for extending his suspension.

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