Sydney: The captains of the three countries set to play Peru at the World Cup have co-signed a letter urging football’s international governing body to find a way for Peru captain Paolo Guerrero — currently under a drug suspension — to play in the tournament next month.
FIFPro, the players’ union, released a letter on Tuesday that was signed by France captain Hugo Lloris, Denmark captain Simon Kjaer and Australia skipper Mile Jedinak seeking a temporary lifting of Guerrero’s suspension.
Guerrero tested positive for a banned substance after Peru’s World Cup qualifier against Argentina last October and was initially suspended for 12 months.
The ban was later reduced to six months, allowing the 34-year-old forward to return to his Brazilian club Flamengo to prepare for the World Cup. But the Court of Arbitration for Sport, on appeal from the World Anti-Doping Agency, last week extended the suspension to 14 months, effectively sidelining Guerrero for Peru’s first World Cup tournament in 36 years.
In the letter to Fifa, the France, Denmark and Australia captains asked the Fifa Council to “show compassion” and said it would be “plainly wrong” to exclude Guerrero on the basis of the findings that the Peru captain did not intent to cheat and that the substance was not performance-enhancing.
Guerrero tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, but lawyers argued the stimulant did not enhance his performance and was accidentally consumed in contaminated tea.
The CAS said its panel accepted those arguments as factual.
“As such, we turn to the Fifa Council and kindly put forward an urgent request for clemency by asking the Fifa Council to temporarily interrupt the ban imposed on Paolo Guerrero during the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia, with the suspension to recommence at the conclusion of Peru’s participation in the competition,” the captains wrote. “We believe that in the interest of fairness and proportionality, and taking into consideration the exceptional circumstances of the present matter, Paolo who — as everyone agrees did not cheat — should be able to participate with, and against, his fellow professionals in the Fifa World Cup.
“We strongly believe that a temporary interruption would be the equitable and rightful solution.”
Peru President Martin Vizcarra has asked the government and Peru’s ambassador to Switzerland to be ready to help Guerrero challenge his ban at the Swiss supreme court.
Guerrero can ask federal judges to study the ruling by the Swiss-based CAS, which banned him until January.
The Swiss Federal Tribunal can intervene if the legal process was abused. It could give an interim order before Peru’s World Cup programme starts on June 16 against Denmark.