Peru national soccer captain Paolo Guerrero was greeted Tuesday by hundreds of people at Lima's international airport a day after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) extended his suspension for doping, excluding the striker from the 2018 World Cup.
"I am very sad ... because many people have been speculating many things. As I have said before, this is an injustice," he said.
Guerrero, who plays professionally for Brazil's Flamengo, thanked "the people's warmth," referring to the hundreds of people who arrived at the airport to show their support.
"First, I would like to let everyone know that I'm with my team to the death. I support my teammates in good times and bad. My situation has nothing to do with the rest of my World Cup teammates," he said.
Guerrero, 34, was originally suspended for a year after a routine doping test in October 2017 detected a cocaine metabolite, but FIFA, soccer's world governing body, subsequently reduced the penalty to six months and the player returned to action May 6 with Flamengo.
The Peruvian appeared before the Lausanne, Switzerland-based CAS earlier this month to argue that the suspension was unjustified, maintaining that the cocaine metabolite entered his system via yerba mate brewed in a pot that previously contained coca leaf.
At the same time, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) asked CAS to increase the length of Guerrero's suspension to two years.
Monday's CAS ruling will keep Guerrero off the field until Jan. 13, 2019.
While the judges accepted that Guerrero "did not attempt to enhance his performance by ingesting the prohibited substance," the CAS said in its decision, "the Panel considered that the Player did bear some fault or negligence, even if it was not significant."
Guerrero said Tuesday that he is considering all possible courses of action with his lawyers, adding that Peru soccer federation's stance "leaves much to be desired."
Guerrero criticized the fact that the Peruvian national team remains lodged at the Swissotel in Lima, where Guerrero ingested the yerba mate that resulted in his testing positive for the cocaine metabolite.
The striker said that when he returned to Lima a few months ago "to seek evidence" to defend his case before the CAS, the Swissotel "turned its back" on him.
"Strange things have been happening. I want to find all the evidence," Guerrero said, adding that he did not know that the union representing pro soccer players, FIFPro, had called for an urgent meeting with FIFA because of CAS's "disproportionate and unfair" sanction.