Peru’s preparation for the Russia 2018 World Cup [VIDEO] suffered a major hitch after their captain Paolo Guerrero lost an appeal for a failed doping test. Guerrero is facing a World Cup ban as a result. The captain pleaded his innocence saying the banned substance was ingested in contaminated tea.

Acted in negligence

He had tested positive for benzoylecgonine in October last year during their qualifying game against Argentina. The substance is a metabolite of cocaine.

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Though the use of cocaine is not prohibited when an athlete is not in any competition, its use during a period of competition is illegal. It is considered a performance-enhancing drug.

Guerrero’s initial ban by FIFA had expired this month after an appeal in December. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), however, upheld a six-month extension appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Announcing the extension of the ban now ending in January 2019, CAS said it was the most appropriate course of action considering Guerrero’s degree of fault in the matter. While the court acknowledged that he did not intend to enhance his performance, it said he had acted in negligence and failed to take measures against doping violations.

The 34-year-old footballer is in Peru’s provisional squad that was named on Sunday. Peru will fight it out with France, Denmark and Australia for qualification from Group C. This is Peru’s first-ever appearance in football’s biggest stage since 1982.

Nothing to be excited about without Guerrero

Guerrero marked his return from the FIFA ban with a goal for Flamengo in a 3-2 loss to Chapecoense.

After the match, he said he hoped the court wouldn’t instill a further ban against him as he was innocent. Guerrero has 32 goals for his country in 86 appearances.

This is the second ruling by CAS that has a huge impact on Peru’s 2018 World Cup journey. The first one was being awarded a default win over their opponents, Bolivia, who were found guilty of fielding an ineligible player. The three points helped Peru qualify for the playoffs- where they beat New Zealand to make it to Russia- at the expense of Chile.

News of extension of the ban was not well received among Peru fans. They questioned the CAS’s intentions for the ban despite admitting that Guerrero was not significantly negligent and his intention was not to enhance his performance. A fan said that he had been looking forward to the World Cup, but with Guerrero’s ban, there was nothing to be excited about anymore.