ZURICH (Reuters) - Peru captain Paolo Guerrero’s hopes of winning an amnesty from a doping ban that will keep him out of the World Cup appeared to end on Tuesday after a meeting with FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
Infantino expressed “deep understanding” of the 34-year-old’s plight, FIFA said in a statement, but stressed that the sanction was imposed by sport’s highest tribunal following standard disciplinary procedure.
Guerrero will be barred from the World Cup, where Peru will be making their first appearance for 36 years, after testing positive for cocaine — contained in a tea — following the World Cup qualifier away to Argentina in October.
He was initially barred for 12 months by FIFA’s disciplinary committee but this was cut to six months on appeal, which would have allowed him to play in the June 14-July 15 World Cup in Russia.
However, last week, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) increased the ban to 14 months after an appeal from the World Anti-Doping Committee (WADA) which argued that six months was too lenient.
FIFA confirmed that Infantino met Guerrero and the Peruvian Football Federation (FPF) president Edwin Oviedo on Tuesday.
“Gianni Infantino expressed his deep understanding of Guerrero’s disappointment in not being able to join the Peruvian squad at the 2018 FIFA World Cup,” said FIFA.
“However, the FIFA President also stressed the fact that the sanction had been imposed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, after an appeal lodged against a decision of an independent FIFA judicial body.”
The world players’ union FIFPro has criticised the ban as too harsh, pointing out that CAS itself recognised that Guerrero ingested the substance unknowingly and did not intend to enhance his performance.
On Monday, the captains of the three teams drawn to play Peru at the World Cup wrote to FIFA asking that Guerrero be allowed to play.
France captain Hugo Lloris, Australia’s Mile Jedinak and Denmark skipper Simon Kjaer asked FIFA to show compassion to Guerrero and said it was “plainly wrong” to deny him the highlight of his career.
Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar