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The BBC's Iain Haddow
"Latest in a long line of drug-related incidents"
 real 28k

Thursday, 6 January, 2000, 04:55 GMT
Maradona 'tests positive' for cocaine

maradona Maradona was sent home from the World Cup in 1994

Blood and urine samples taken from the former Argentine football star, Diego Maradona, have tested positive for cocaine, according to Uruguay police.

Maximo Costa Rocha, the police chief for the Uruguayan province of Maldonado, told a news conference on Wednesday: "I have been authorised by a judge to inform you that our test (blood and urine) has resulted positive for cocaine."

Mr Costa Rocha said police first looked into the case when Maradona was admitted to hospital in the Uruguayan beach resort of Punta del Este on Tuesday, suffering from what his doctors said were hypertension and an irregular heartbeat.

maradona Maradona will face police questions
After visiting the clinic, a police officer and judge decided to investigate further and took blood and urine samples which tested positive for cocaine.

The police chief said another sample had been taken and was being analysed to pinpoint when the cocaine was ingested.

Maradona, who has been in intensive care at the hospital, was expected to leave the unit to be transferred to a normal ward.

However the 39-year-old footballing star will later face police questions into the matter.

Mr Costa Rocha made it clear that neither Maradona nor anybody else had been arrested, but said several other people were helping police with their inquiries.

There are going to be a lot of people questioned
Police chief Maximo Costa Rocha
Correspondents said Maradona's agent, Guillermo Coppola, was questioned for five hours by police while another businessman and friend of Maradona, Pablo Cosentino, was quizzed for three hours.

Assuming the test findings are confirmed, it is thought that the police will be concerned with discovering where Maradona obtained the drugs, rather than punishing the player for personal use.

"The trafficker is the delinquent, the consumer is the victim. That is why he is not detained and it is the trafficker we are looking for," Mr Costa Rocha said.

maradona The footballer was recently voted Argentine sportsman of the century
There has been much speculation that the football star's illness might be drug-related, given that he has undergone repeated treatment for drug addiction in recent years.

Maradona's career went into decline in 1991 when he was suspended for 15 months following a positive test for cocaine while playing for Napoli in Italy.

He was sent home from the 1994 World Cup in the US after failing a drug test for ephedrine, and was later banned for 15 months.

Maradona failed another drug test in 1997 after a match between Boca Juniors and Argentinos Juniors. However there were doubts about the validity of that sample.

20th century sportsman

The controversial soccer star won a World Cup winners medal in 1986 after Argentina beat Germany in the final.

Maradona, recently voted Argentine sportsman of the 20th century, also hit the headlines in the same competition when he apparently handled the ball when scoring against England in the quarter final.

When asked about the incident he described it as "the hand of God".

Maradona also led Argentina to the 1990 final, where the Germans avenged their 1986 defeat.

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See also:
05 Jan 00 |  Americas
Maradona in intensive care
05 Jan 00 |  Americas
The fall of Maradona
28 Jun 98 |  Football
England seek 'Hand of God' revenge
13 Jun 98 |  Football
Maradona sentenced for shooting reporters
22 Dec 97 |  Football
Diego fails to show for drugs test
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