Peru striker Paolo Guerrero featured for the South American side in the 2018 World Cup in Russia but things could have gone a whole lot differently for the 34-year-old.
When Guerrero was subject to a drug test last October traces of metabolite benzoylecgonine were found in the liver which meant that he was immediately slapped with a 14-month ban just before the World Cup.
The ban was enforced because Benzoylecgonine is produced in the liver when our bodies metabolize cocaine and this is the premier test that FIFA uses to defend cocaine in once body.
But Paulo Guerrero had maintained he never used cocaine in his life.
So what went wrong?
According to the striker even though he never had cocaine, he confessed that he may have ignorantly consumed tea containing coca leaves, which has been used amongst the indigenous people of the Andes for centuries.
Cocaine, the main active ingredient in coca leaves and Guerrero confessed that he might have had tea containing coca leaves when he was sick. But this was not enough to convince FIFA as they refused to lift the ban.
The footballer decided to challenge the decision carried out by the governing body of football and it was here that a trio of Inca Mummies came to his rescue.
Charles Stanish, an archaeologist and the executive director of the University of South Florida’s Institute for the Advanced Study of Culture and the Environment argued on behalf of Paulo Guerrero that a person could test positive for benzoylecgonine without having consumed cocaine – as had been seen before with a couple of Inca Mummies.
In 2013, researchers announced that they had found the metabolite benzoylecgonine in the hair of all three Inca children.
Their analysis revealed that the 13-year-old girl known as the Llullaillaco Maiden had been consistently consuming coca (and alcohol) during the last year of her life. She was, in fact, found with a lump of coca between her teeth. The two younger children, a boy and girl, showed lower levels of coca use.
Guerrero has not been formally cleared of doping, and Switzerland’s supreme court is undertaking a full consideration of his case.
But while the case is pending, a Swiss judge temporarily lifted the ban against Guerrero so he could play in the World Cup.
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