Maradona: Argentina took drugs before qualifier

Argentina players took banned drugs before a qualifying match

against Australia for the 1994 World Cup, Diego Maradona said

Monday.

Maradona made the claim on Argentine television and accused FIFA

vice president Julio Grondona, the head of Argentina’s Football

Association, of knowing about the doping.

”Why weren’t there any anti-doping controls in the match with

Australia if we had them in all the other games?” Maradona asked

during an interview on The Football Show. ”They give you 10

anti-doping controls and only the match that decides whether

Argentina will go to the United States or not, there is no

anti-doping control. That’s the cheat and Grondona knew about

it.

”What happened is that to play against Australia we were given

a speedy coffee. They put something in the coffee and that’s why we

ran more.”

Grondona had no immediate comment over Maradona’s claims.

After drawing with Australia in Sydney, Argentina won 1-0 in the

second leg in Buenos Aires to advance to the tournament in the

United States, from which Maradona was later sent home after

testing positive to drugs.

The ongoing feud between the two first erupted when Grondona

decided not to renew Maradona’s contract as Argentina coach after

the 2010 World Cup.

Maradona reacted angrily to comments the 80-year-old Grondona

made last week that were seen as veiled references to his

much-publicized battle with drugs.

After Maradona suggested the AFA president should retire,

Grondona was quoted as saying: ”I’m old but healthy,” noting that

others had ”created problems” for themselves.

Maradona, who won the 1986 World Cup with Argentina as a player,

reiterated his intention to sue Grondona.

”Now he can chew on a trial. You can’t talk so lightly about a

problem like the one I had,” Maradona said. ”I’ve spoken to my

lawyers.”

Maradona said the AFA president has long been perfectly aware of

drug use in football.

”We took whatever the doctor gave us,” Maradona said. ”To go

to the World Cup, we’d have taken even orange juice. I’m saying it

now because Grondona talks about drugs as if he didn’t know

anything about drugs in football and the sickness I suffered.”

Maradona went on to insinuate that the Argentine government

under President Cristina Fernandez was protecting Grondona because

of a television deal with the AFA to broadcast national league

matches for free.

”I’m not asking the president to fire him, I’m saying there

should be changes,” Maradona said. ”Given all the barbarities

that Grondona does, because he’s old or because his time has

passed, if the government keeps backing him then they are

wrong.”

Argentine cabinet chief Anibal Fernandez rejected the idea that

Grondona had any special protection.

”We don’t enter into this type of discussion,” Fernandez said

Monday on television. ”Nobody is looking after anybody. We have a

signed agreement and it’s respected as such. Let’s not get the

government mixed up with this when it has nothing to do with

it.”