Peru’s amazing World Cup qualification will see them participate in the biggest football tournament for the first time since 1982, but they have been dealt a crushing blow to their World Cup aspirations.
Today Peru were hit with the news that their captain and arguably best player, Paolo Guerrero, has been suspended for one-year by FIFA which will result in him missing the World Cup finals in Russia. He tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a stimulant on FIFA’s list of banned substances.
The event took place shortly after Peru’s 0-0 draw against Argentina in the South American World Cup qualifiers in October this year. The news about the failed test became public on the 3rd of November when Peru’s football governing body announced on their Twitter page that Guerrero would be suspended for the 1st leg of Peru’s World Cup playoff match against New Zealand. Peru ended up winning the playoff 2-0 on aggregate to advance to the finals of the competition.
Peru and Guerrero had been waiting patiently to find out what the long-term fate of the player would be until today when the news broke out that FIFA’s disciplinary committee decided to suspend Guerrero for a full year with the suspension already in progress since November, 3rd when it officially started.
“The player tested positive for cocaine metabolite benzoylecgonine, a substance included in Wada’s 2017 Prohibited List under the class ‘S6. Stimulants’, following a doping control test conducted after the match. By testing positive for a prohibited substance, the player has violated article 6 of the Fifa Anti-Doping Regulations and, as such, contravened article 63 of the Fifa Disciplinary Code.” Fifa said in their official statement.
The 33-year old Guerrero himself has denied the claim that he used the banned substance and suggested that the failed test was a result of taking a flu medicine according to a source close to the player.
Peru hold out a little bit of hope that Guerrero will still be part of the team at the World Cup as the player now has the option to appeal against the suspension to FIFA’s appeals committee. If the current suspension remains then Peru will undoubtedly miss their captain and most capped player who currently plays his club football for Flamengo in Brazil.
The former Bayern Munich player helped his team finish 3rd in two Copa America competitions, one in 2011 and the other 2015. He was also the top goalscorer in both competitions and he remains the nation’s all-time leading goalscorer with 32 goals.
The news comes at a time when the country has already inherited the monstrous task of qualifying for the knockout rounds from the challenging group they were drawn in as they will have to face Denmark, France and Australia at the tournament next year.