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Banned Peru striker Paolo Guerrero vows to fight drug accusations

Paolo Guerrero

Rio de Janeiro, Dec 11 (UITV/IANS)- Suspended Peru striker Paolo Guerrero has vehemently denied using illicit drugs and vowed to clear his name in a bid to play at next year's FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Guerrero, Peru's captain and all-time leading goalscorer, was last week handed a 12-month ban by FIFA's disciplinary committee after being found guilty of consuming cocaine by testing positive for its metabolite benzoylecgonine, reports Xinhua news agency.

"I want to make it clear that I do not use cocaine and never have in my life," Guerrero told Brazil's TV Globo on Sunday.

"I have been a professional football for 17 years and had thousands of tests. I'm trying to keep calm because I know the person that I am. I did not use drugs or consume anything by being negligent. It's all there for FIFA to see."

Guerrero, who plays his club football for Brazil's Flamengo, tested positive to the stimulant after Peru's World Cup qualifier against Argentina in Buenos Aires on October 5.

The 33-year-old was given a provisional ban on November 4, forcing him out of Peru's World Cup intercontinental playoff against New Zealand.

Peru's victory over two legs earned the country its first World Cup final berth since 1982.

Guerrero denied having consumed coca tea and believes he was a victim of food or drink contamination.

"Football players are totally unprotected. I have to be careful with the fish I eat, with the water I drink ... because everything can be contaminated," the former Bayern Munich forward said.

"The amount (of the substance) that appeared in my exam sample is very low. FIFA ruled out the use of any drugs. Contamination has been scientifically confirmed.

"I would not do something so crazy as to take coca tea. I always ask myself what I can and cannot take, which creme I can put on my skin, which shampoo I can use. Everyone at Flamengo knows this."

Guerrero confirmed that his legal advisors are preparing to submit an appeal to FIFA and will take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if necessary.

Guerrero has been capped 85 times for Peru's national team and scored 32 goals.

The 2018 World Cup will be played in 11 Russian cities from June 14 to July 15.