24 August 2018

Paolo Guerrero suspension re-imposed

A 14-month ban issued to Paolo Guerrero, which was temporarily lifted to allow the Peru captain to compete in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, has been re-imposed. ‘FIFA took note of the decision of the Swiss Federal Tribunal to lift the provisional suspensive effect that had been granted with respect to the sanction imposed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on the player Paolo Guerrero following an anti-doping rule violation’, wrote a FIFA spokesperson in an email. ‘Therefore the suspension imposed by the CAS is in place. We have no further comments.’

Guerrero was initially sanctioned with a one year ban by FIFA in December 2017, however the FIFA Appeals Committee later reduced his sanction to six months. Guerrero tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, following a doping control after Peru’s 0-0 draw with Argentina in a Russia 2018 qualifying match on 5 October 2017.

On 13 April, Guerrero and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) filed appeals against the sanction, which Guerrero sought to have reduced so he could compete in the World Cup, and WADA sought to increase. On 14 May, the CAS increased Guerrero’s suspension to 14 months, finding that although it agreed with the FIFA Appeals Committee’s finding that his positive test was caused by ingestion of tea containing the prohibited substance, he was responsible for some degree of fault or negligence. 

It is understood that Guerrero’s lawyers turned to a Brazilian biochemist, L.C. Cameron from the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro, who convinced CAS that the concentration of benzoylecgonine in Guerrero’s urine was consistent with somebody who had drunk coca leaf tea, rather than somebody who had taken cocaine. Charles Stanish, an American archaeologist from the Institute for Advanced Studies, University of South Florida and an expert in Inca culture, explained that the hair of frozen mummified Inca children found at the top of Volcan Llullaillaco in 1999 had tested positive for  benzoylecgonine. Lawyers used this finding to show how it was possible to test positive for benzoylecgonine without ingesting cocaine, as the substance was not produced until after it was isolated by German and Italian scientists Albert Niemann and Paolo Mantegazza in 1859.

On 31 May, the Swiss Federal Tribunal suspended the CAS decision to increase his ban to 14 months, allowing Guerrero to compete in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. ‘The President of the Civil Law Department has taken particular account of the various disadvantages which the 34 year old footballer would suffer should he not attend an event which would crown his football career’, read a statement. ‘It should be noted that he did not act deliberately or through gross negligence, as is clear from the press release of the CAS on this case. In addition, FIFA and WADA have both come to the conclusion that they are not categorically opposed to the complainant’s participation in the World Cup.’

Guerrero transferred from Flamengo to Internacional in August this year. ‘Sport Club Internacional informs that so far, it has not received an official notifications about the player Paolo Guerrero’, read a statement posted on Twitter (below). ‘The agreement made with the athlete provides contractual protection for both parties. The club will provide all necessary legal support to the player.’

The Swiss Federal Tribunal said that it has yet to issue its final ruling regarding Guerrero’s appeal against CAS’s decision to increase his ban to 14 months. The case number is 4A_318/2018. 

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