World Cup 2018: Paolo Guerrero drugs case 'not an excuse' for Peru exit

Paolo Guerrero
Guerrero was comforted by Peru's coaches after their defeat by France
2018 Fifa World Cup on the BBC
Host: Russia Dates: 14 June - 15 July
Live: Coverage across BBC TV, BBC Radio and BBC Sport website with further coverage on Red Button, Connected TVs and mobile app.

The uncertainty surrounding Paolo Guerrero's drugs ban was not an excuse for Peru's exit from the World Cup, says assistant coach Nolberto Solano.

Striker Guerrero, 34, had a 14-month suspension temporarily lifted two weeks before the tournament began, meaning he could join the squad in Russia.

Peru failed to progress from Group C after defeats by Denmark and France.

"It wasn't easy preparing the team without someone who was very important for us," Solano told BBC World Service.

"He's part of this group. In general, it's no excuse. I think we prepared and worked really hard to get into this World Cup."

Guerrero, who has won 88 caps and is Peru's record goalscorer, tested positive for cocaine after a World Cup qualifier against Argentina on 6 October. He said it was the result of drinking contaminated tea.

His initial 12-month ban was halved, before being extended to 14 months after a World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) appeal.

A Swiss tribunal then ruled Guerrero's suspension could be temporarily lifted while his appeal was considered.

"I know it was difficult for Paolo, sitting for five months without any football - especially for someone of his age - but he deserved to be here," added Solano.

"That's why we were thinking positive in case he sorted out his situation at the last minute.

"The players gave everything and we prepared the best we could. But that's football. It's like that. You have to put the ball in the net."

Peru are playing in their first World Cup in 36 years, and despite their early exit after successive 1-0 defeats, Solano insists they can leave Russia feeling positive.

"We have a team responding to the philosophy of how we want to play football," said the former Newcastle midfielder, who joined the national set-up in 2017.

"We played against some of the best players in the world and we didn't sit back.

"Maybe we need more experience. To get here after 36 years was really emotional but at the same time we realised the situation - we knew it would be tough. The players gave everything they could."

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