World Cup 2018: Peru captain Paolo Guerrero cleared to play despite drug ban

Paolo Guerrero
Peru captain Paolo Guerrero was banned for 14 months after testing positive for cocaine

Peru captain Paolo Guerrero can play at this summer's World Cup after a Swiss tribunal ruled on his drug ban.

The court agreed on Thursday to temporarily lift a 14-month suspension, imposed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas), while it considered the 34-year-old striker's appeal.

The captains of Peru's Group C rivals Australia, Denmark and France wrote to Fifa asking them to lift the ban.

Guerrero tested positive for cocaine metabolite benzoylecgonine in October.

The sample was taken after Peru's World Cup qualifier against Argentina and Guerrero - who insisted the positive test was the result of drinking contaminated tea - was initially banned for 12 months by Fifa.

That suspension was then halved by Fifa's appeal committee but the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) appealed to Cas and, less than two weeks after his six-month ban ended in May, they extended it to 14 months.

A Swiss tribunal has now ruled that the extension was "unjustified" and is "provisionally deprived of effect", leaving Guerrero free to play in Russia.

Peru won a play-off against New Zealand in November to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1982.

Analysis

Mani Djazmi, BBC World Football

Before the match that sealed Peru's first World Cup appearance for a generation in November 2017, the players ran out in Lima's national stadium wearing T-shirts baring the slogan, 'Fuerza Paolo'.

After the match Jefferson Farfan, whose goal put Peru on the road to a 2-0 victory over New Zealand, dedicated it to Guerrero.

Guerrero isn't just Peru's all-time top scorer. Emotionally, he is their talisman and on the pitch, he is an out-and-out striker, unlike any other attackers at their disposal.

Despite his age, months-long absence from football, and Peru's excellent form - they're unbeaten since November 2016 - his reprieve will be heralded throughout the land and the squad.

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