Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder and Brazil international Fred has received a one-year doping ban from football from the South American confederation.
According to the Associated Press (via FoxSports.com), the player tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide, an illegal diuretic, during last summer's Copa America tournament in Chile.
As of now, the ban only applies to matches sanctioned by the South American confederation, although FIFA could still extend the ban worldwide, keeping the 22-year-old from playing for Shakhtar as well.
The ban has been backdated to June 26, and with the Ukrainian league in the midst of a lengthy winter break, Fred would miss only four months of club football should his punishment be enforced worldwide.
Fred continued playing while awaiting CONMEBOL's sanction, appearing in all six of Shakhtar's Champions League matches and 12 Ukrainian Premier League matches, per WhoScored.com. He started two of Brazil's group-stage matches at the Copa America.
Throughout it all, he maintained his innocence and denied using the substance, per BBC Sport: "I trust in my innocence and I am going to prove it to the proper authorities."
Fans and pundits alike couldn't believe CONMEBOL made the decision to backdate the ban, meaning it would effectively only be for six months. Sky Sports' Paulo Freitas didn't hide his opinion:
FIFA will now have to decide whether to extend the ban to the club level. Its sanctioning body can afford to take its time coming to a decision, as Shakhtar won't play their next match until Feb. 18, per their official website.