Peru captain Paolo Guerrero was cleared Thursday to play at the World Cup by a Swiss supreme court judge despite a doping ban.
Switzerland’s supreme court granted an interim order to freeze Guerrero’s 14-month ban for a positive test for cocaine metabolites at a World Cup qualifying game.
“As a result, Paolo Guerrero can take part in the next World Cup,” the federal court said, noting the tournament could be “without any doubt the crowning glory of his career.”
The judge, Christina Kiss, took into account that, at 34, Guerrero should not miss his first opportunity to play at the World Cup.
Guerrero’s urgent request to the federal court was helped by FIFA and the World Anti-Doping Agency, according to the court.
“Neither one nor the other was categorically opposed” to his playing, the court said.
Kiss wrote in an eight-page judgment how Guerrero benefited from a “rare surge of solidarity” to support his case. That included a letter signed by captains of Peru’s three World Cup opponents — France, Denmark and Australia — urging he be allowed to play.
She also noted a possible negative effect on Guerrero’s teammates of being deprived of their “emblematic” captain.
The interim ruling puts the ban imposed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on hold until full consideration of the case at a later date in federal court.
The verdict came four days ahead of FIFA’s Monday deadline for Peru to finalize its 23-man World Cup squad.
Guerrero tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine at a World Cup qualifier against Argentina in October. He argued at two FIFA hearings, and his appeal to CAS, that the stimulant did not offer chemical help to his performance and was accidentally consumed.
The federal judge agreed with the CAS panel, which also accepted the player’s arguments of not being significantly at fault for the positive test.
However, the CAS judges increased the ban from six to 14 months, upholding a counter-appeal by WADA. The sports court decided a ban through January 2019 was an “appropriate sanction in light of Mr. Guerrero’s degree of fault.”
Guerrero’s original ban by FIFA expired in early May, in the same week his appeal was heard at CAS.
Earlier Thursday, CAS — which is based less than a mile from the federal court in Lausanne — issued a statement saying it would not object if Guerrero was cleared to play in Russia.
Thursday’s victory means the former Bayern Munich player is now set to be captain of Peru at its first World Cup appearance since 1982.
Peru opens against Denmark on June 16 in Saransk.