Paolo Guerrero: The 34-year-old striker set to captain Peru at World Cup after doping ban temporarily lifted

Peru's forward Paolo Guerrero celebrates after scoring a goal during an international friendly football match between Saudi Arabia and Peru at Kybunpark stadium in St. Gallen on June 3, 2018
Image: Peru striker Paolo Guerrero is clear to play at the World Cup after a doping ban was temporarily lifted

Paolo Guerrero will captain Peru at the World Cup - we chart his rocky road to the finals, with the Flamengo striker cleared to play after a doping ban was temporarily lifted by a Swiss court.

After scoring twice in a 3-0 friendly win over Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Guerrero was confirmed in Peru's 23-man squad on Monday.

On the surface, it was no surprise to see Peru's captain and all-time leading goalscorer among those heading to Russia, but it comes after a doping suspension had originally put the 34-year-old's presence in doubt.

Peru's forward Paolo Guerrero (L) celebrates with a teammate after scoring his team's third goal during an international friendly football match Saudi Arabia vs Peru at Kybunpark stadium in St. Gallen, on June 3
Image: Paolo Guerrero (L) scored twice during an international friendly against Saudi Arabia on June 3

Here, we look at the twists and turns that led to Guerrero's inclusion at the World Cup.

The initial 12-month ban

Guerrero tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine at a World Cup qualifier against Argentina in October 2017.

The striker was provisionally suspended, and he missed Peru's 2-0 two-legged play-off win over New Zealand as a result - a victory which saw the nation reach their first World Cup since 1982.

Peru's Raul Ruidiaz, Jefferson Farfan and Miguel Trauco show a number nine jersey in support of their suspended teammate Paolo Guerrero, during their 2018 World Cup qualifying play-off second leg football match against New Zealand in Lima, Peru, on November 15, 2017
Image: Raul Ruidiaz, Jefferson Farfan and Miguel Trauco showed a number nine jersey in support of Paolo Guerrero during their 2018 World Cup qualifying play-off second leg against New Zealand

On December 8, he was then handed a 12-month ban by FIFA's disciplinary committee, backdated to November 3, which ruled him out of the World Cup.

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Reduced to six months

Guerrero argued the stimulant had not been performance enhancing, and was accidentally consumed in contaminated tea.

On December 20, the FIFA Appeal Committee reduced the suspension to six months, having taken into account all the circumstances of the case, "in particular the degree of fault of the player", a FIFA statement read.

As a result, Guerrero was now free to play at the World Cup. Enter the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

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We continue our World Cup countdown with Peru, who have qualified for their first World Cup in 36 years

Increased to 14 months

On May 14, CAS upheld an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to extend Guerrero's six-month FIFA ban.

The suspension had in fact expired at the start of May, but CAS ruled that he should be banned for 14 months, running until January 2019.

Once more, Guerrero was ruled out of the World Cup.

Peru's national football team captain Paolo Guerrero (C) is greeted by supporters as he arrives at the Jorge Chavez airport in Lima on May 15, 2018 a day after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) increased a previous sanction by imposing a 14-month doping ban on him
Image: Paolo Guerrero (C) was greeted by supporters as he arrives at the Jorge Chavez airport in Lima on May 15, 2018 a day after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) increased his ban

Support for Guerrero

On May 20, the world players' union FIFPro wrote to FIFA to request that Guerrero should be allowed to participate in the tournament.

This was followed by an open letter two days later, signed by Hugo Lloris, Mile Jedinak and Simon Kjaer - the captains of Peru's Group C opponents France, Australia and Denmark - which also called for his inclusion.

"We are writing to you in relation to the situation of the captain of the national team of Peru, Mr Paolo Guerrero," read the letter.

"For the past 14 years he has represented his country with pride, pursuing qualification for the FIFA World Cup. Finally that moment has arrived, with Peru set to appear at the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Russia.

Players of Peru warm up wearing a t-shirt supporting Paolo Guerrero prior to the international friendly match between Peru and Scotland at Estadio Nacional de Lima on May 29
Image: Players of Peru warmed up wearing a t-shirt supporting Paolo Guerrero prior to the international friendly match with Scotland on May 29

"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."

The letter was also signed by FIFPro president Phillippe Piat and secretary general Theo van Seggelen.

In comes Switzerland's supreme court

In what appears to be the final twist in this tumultuous tale, Guerrero was cleared to play at the World Cup by a Swiss supreme court judge on May 31.

The judge took into account that, at 34, Guerrero should not miss the first opportunity of his career to play at the World Cup.

His case was also helped by the fact that neither FIFA nor the World Anti-Doping Agency opposed the appeal.

"Neither one nor the other was categorically opposed (to him playing)," the court said.

The interim ruling puts the ban imposed by CAS on hold until full consideration of the case at a later date.

Confirmation in the squad

Peru's forward Paolo Guerrero gestures during an international friendly football match between Saudi Arabia and Peru at Kybunpark stadium in St. Gallen on June 3

Guerrero was named in Peru's final 23-man squad on June 4, and his inclusion came at expense of Granada midfielder Sergio Pena, who admitted it was the "hardest moment" of his career after dropping out of the team.

Pena's heartbreak, however is a sidenote in this fascinating story, for Peru their talisman back, the man with 34 goals in 87 appearances.

And after supporting the Peruvian's cause, Lloris, Jedinak and Kjaer will soon line-up against the Peruvian in Russia. Guerrero will be thankful, of course, but there will be no room for sentiment when Group C gets under way later this month.

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