Argentine legend Diego Maradona on Friday repeated doping allegations against Argentine Football Federation president Julio Grondona, insisting the latter gave the green light for players to take a banned substance ahead of a 1994 World Cup playoff with Australia.
“Grondona told us a week beforehand we could take the substance we wanted as there was to be no anti-doping control,” 1986 World Cup winner Maradona told Argentine radio station Metro.
Grondona said said earlier last week that doping controls were deliberately overlooked so as to prevent Maradona, who served a 15-month suspension in 1991 for taking cocaine, falling foul of a test.
Former Australian soccer officials have angrily denied being party to any deal to prevent drug testing before the play-off, which saw Argentina go through to the 1994 finals over two legs.
At the ensuing 1994 World Cup, he would additionally test positive for ephedrine.
Then Australian federation chief executive Ian Holmes insisted no deal to drop the controls was ever discussed with his side, telling the Sydney Morning Herald that “quite frankly, we would never have agreed to that kind of an arrangement.”
Former Argentina defender Jorge Borelli and former midfielder Hugo Perez have denied Maradona’s claim — but the latter accused them of only “playing Grondona’s game.”
“I don’t know who took what. The only thing I know is that I went walking around the whole of Australia with [former wife] Claudia until eight o’clock in the morning and that various others couldn’t get to sleep, I don’t know why,” Maradona said.