The FIFA Appeal Committee on Wednesday has reduced Paolo Guerrero’s suspension for taking a banned substance from one year to six months, meaning the Peru international can play for his country at the 2018 World Cup.
Guerrero, 33, failed a drugs test on Oct. 5 after a World Cup qualifying match against Argentina and was provisionally suspended for 30 days on Nov. 3.
FIFA said he had “tested positive for cocaine metabolite benzoylecgonine, a substance included on WADA’s 2017 Prohibited List,” and he was then given a 12-month ban.
The Flamengo striker denied ever taking cocaine and pleaded his innocence ahead of the appeal ruling, with his defence saying the striker drank tea contaminated with coca leaves before the Argentina qualifier.
FIFA’s statement on Wednesday read in part: “The FIFA Appeal Committee after taking into account all the circumstances of the case, in particular the degree of fault of the player, considered a six-month period of ineligibility to be a proportionate sanction.
“The suspension period starts on 3 November 2017, the date on which the player was provisionally suspended by the chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee.”
Guerrero’s ban will end at the beginning of April 2018 with the first match of the 2018 World Cup scheduled for June 14 with hosts Russia playing Saudi Arabia.
However, speaking after the FIFA announcement, Guerrero’s lawyer Bichara Neto said the player planned to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to have the six-month suspension annulled.
FIFA’s decision to reduce the ban could meanwhile be appealed at CAS by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Guerrero was Peru’s top scorer in World Cup qualifying with six goals.