Peru captain Paolo Guerrero has been suspended for one year by FIFA for testing positive for a banned substance, meaning he will be ineligible as Peru makes its return to the World Cup for the first time since 1982.
Guerrero, 33, tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a stimulant on FIFA’s list of banned substances, shortly after Peru’s 0-0 tie with Argentina in its second-to-last match of CONMEBOL qualifying on Oct. 5.
The failed test became public on Nov. 3, when Peru’s official soccer governing body announced that Guerrero would be suspended for the first leg of Peru’s playoff against New Zealand. Peru went on to win the playoff 2-0 on aggregate to qualify for Russia 2018.
The suspension period officially starts on Nov. 3, as that’s when FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee provisionally suspended Guerrero, who plays his club soccer in Brazil with Flamengo. The final decision to lay down the one-year ban was made on Thursday.
According to ESPN Brazil, sources close to the player said Guerrero was completely surprised by the positive test and that he said he only took flu medicine.
His options now are to appeal the suspension to FIFA’s appeals committee or the Court of Arbitration for Sport, per SI.com’s Luis Miguel Echegaray.
Guerrero, 33, scored six goals in the final round of qualifying and is Peru’s all-time leading goal scorer with 32 tallies for the national team.
Peru, which was drawn into Group C with France, Denmark and Australia, opens its World Cup campaign against Denmark on June 16.