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The BBC's Adam Mynott reports
"He is not a well man"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 18 January, 2000, 20:19 GMT
Maradona seeks treatment in Cuba

Maradona shows off a tattoo of Cuban hero Che Guevara Maradona shows off a tattoo of Cuban hero Che Guevara


Former Argentine football star Diego Maradona has arrived in Cuba to undergo a drugs rehabilitation programme.

"I have faith in Cuban medicine and I know that they can cure me," Maradona told reporters on his arrival in Havana.

Maradona was looking tired after his flight from Buenos Aires, which included a stop in the eastern provincial capital of Holguin.

Cuban medical authorities said Maradona would undergo treatment for his cocaine dependency in the Cuban capital.



I will pull myself up because I do not want the kids to do it
Diego Maradona
He was greeted by Dr. Bernabe Ordaz, a physician who fought in Fidel Castro's revolution more than four decades ago and is now director of Havana's top psychiatric hospital.

The Cuban government has an extensive "health tourism" programme, and numerous clinics that specialise in treating foreigners for ailments ranging from addictions to skin problems.

Entourage

The 39-year-old former Argentine captain - rated as one of the world's greatest ever soccer players - was accompanied by a team of doctors, his wife, Claudia, his parents Diego and Tota, and his manager, Guillermo Coppola.


Maradona and his wife Claudia arrive in Havana His wife Claudia travelled with him
In his comments at the airport, Maradona praised "the dignity of the Cuban revolution" and expressed his trust in Cuban medicine.

Before leaving Argentina, Maradona's doctor, Alfredo Cahe, said his time in overseas rehabilitation would be anywhere from three to six months.

The former star was diagnosed as having a severe heart condition after being rushed to hospital in Uruguay two weeks ago suffering from a cocaine overdose.

Doctors said the 39 year-old had taken so many drugs that his heart rate was reduced to 38% of capacity.

Speaking on Friday in his first interview since his collapse, Maradona admitted he was "half dead".

He issued a warning to young people to stay away from drugs, and vowed to fight his addiction.

"I don't want to leave this world - I'm going to fight to continue living as I want to spend my later years with my kids" he said.

Doping scandals

Maradona, who led Argentina to World Cup victory in 1986 in Mexico, first started taking drugs in 1983 while playing for Spanish club Barcelona.

During his playing career, Maradona was twice banned from international competition after testing positive for drug use.

His 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.

He retired in 1997 after failing another drugs test in Argentina.

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See also:
10 Jan 00 |  Americas
Maradona moved to Buenos Aires
07 Jan 00 |  Americas
Maradona 'severely ill'
11 Jan 00 |  Americas
Maradona agent charged
06 Jan 00 |  Americas
Maradona 'tests positive' for cocaine
05 Jan 00 |  Americas
Maradona in intensive care
05 Jan 00 |  Americas
The fall of Maradona

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