Peru has been handed a major psychological boost ahead of the FIFA World Cup with skipper Paolo Guerrero having his drugs ban lifted again.
Guerrero was set to miss the tournament in Russia after being handed a 12-month ban after testing positive to cocaine metabolite benzoylecgonine in October last year.
The suspension was halved by FIFA on appeal, clearing him to play at the FIFA World Cup, only for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to appeal that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
CAS extended the ban to 14 months which again ruled the 34-year-old out of the tournament – which is Peru’s first outing in a FIFA World Cup in 36 years.
However, another appeal to a Swiss Federal Court has again seen his ban temporarily lifted, clearing him to re-join the squad for Russia.
"This decision does justice, at least partially, and commits my thanks to the Swiss Court,” Guerrero said in an official statement on Peru’s Twitter feed.
The former Bayern Munich and Hamburg forward, who currently plays for Brazilian side Flamengo, went on to mention the support he had received from his Peru team-mates, the FPF and its president Edwin Oviedo, and his gratitude to "millions of compatriots" and FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
Senior players from Peru’s Group C opponents – including the Caltex Socceroos' Mile Jedinak – had earlier sent a letter to FIFA asking them to allow Guerrero to play at the FIFA World Cup.
The World football players’ union, FIFpro, also took on Guerrero’s case.
"FIFPro is delighted that Paolo Guerrero has been successful in his legal battle to play for Peru in the 2018 World Cup,” the organisation said in a statement following the verdict.
"Along with many professional footballers around the world, we strongly believe that Guerrero's 14-month sanction for unknowingly ingesting a banned substance is unfair and disproportionate.
"Both FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport agreed that Guerrero did not intend to cheat. Nor, they both agreed, was there any performance-enhancing effect.
"While Guerrero has won a temporary reprieve from the Swiss federal court, it is unfortunate that he has to endure such a protracted legal wrangle that is still not over.”
Peru opens their FIFA World Cup campaign against Denmark on June 17 (AEST).
The South Americans play the Caltex Socceroos in the third match of the group on June 27.
Is Group C at the FIFA World Cup becoming the friendly group? The Danes are certainly hoping so.
After Peru sent a special video last month to their opponents in Russia reminding them just who they are, Denmark have responded with their own special message back at their South American counterparts.
WATCH THE VIDEO IN THE TWEET BELOW
“Now we and @SeleccionPeru have shared a lot of love and our passion for football, but we really like you guys too! Are you with us in making our World Cup Group the #TheFriendlyGroup?” Denmark’s official Twitter account asks.
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