Caltex Socceroos skipper Mile Jedinak has joined the captains of France and Denmark in rallying behind Peru’s Paolo Guerrero in a bid to overturn his drug ban.
It comes as Guerrero and Peru FA president Edwin Oviedo confirmed a meeting will take place on Wednesday AEST with FIFA President Gianni Infantino in an attempt to make him available for the FIFA World Cup.
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Guerrero tested positive for a banned substance after Peru's World Cup qualifier against Argentina in October 2017, and was initially banned from competition for 12 months by FIFA.
This was then reduced on appeal to six months, meaning the 34-year-old could return to action for Brazilian club Flamengo in early May before being named in his country's provisional squad for Russia.
But the Court of Arbitration for Sport has since upheld WADA’s appeal, which has seen Guerrero’s ban extended to 14 months, meaning he is ruled out of the World Cup. This was despite the findings stating Guerrero had not intended to consume the substance, which has no performance enhancing effects.
The verdict was described by FIFPro, the world players’ union, as "unfair and disproportionate" and they have now contacted FIFA in a bid to have Guerrero's ban overturned, with the support of Jedinak and co.
France captain Hugo Lloris and Denmark captain Simon Kjaer have also put their name to the letter, declaring he should be allowed to lead his country out in Russia.
Here is Jedinak, Lloris and Kjaer’s letter to FIFA in support of Paolo Guerrero:
"Peru is returning to football's ultimate stage after a 36-year absence and we believe Paolo Guerrero should be allowed to lead his nation and celebrate what will be a career highlight.
"Given the exceptional circumstances which pertain to this matter, we respectfully ask the FIFA Council to show compassion with Paolo Guerrero who has given his utmost for his national team since 2004 and has recently achieved one of the highest possible honours for any national team player – qualifying for the FIFA World Cup.
"In our view, it would be plainly wrong to exclude him from what should be a pinnacle of his career - an achievement he has worked so hard for, and for so many years - on the basis of a finding which confirms that he did not intend to cheat and did not intend to enhance his performance with prohibited substances.
"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.
"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. As such, we strongly believe that a temporary interruption would be the equitable and rightful solution."
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