Maradona admits drug addiction


DIEGO MARADONA admitted publicly yesterday he would [always be a drug addict and claimed the game was increasingly becoming drug-ridden.

Baring his soul in an unprecedented interview with the weekly magazine Gene in Buenos Aires, the 35-year-old said: "I was, am and always will be a drug addict." He added that cocaine "never left me free to think and. act."

Maradona claimed more and more footballers were turning to drugs, saying: "I am not the only one. Many do it."

Maradona, who led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup, is now fronting a government campaign to stamp out drug. abuse. He admitted taking banned substances for the first time at the age of 22, as he started to make his name in Europe with Barcelona and then Napoli.

He related how his battle to beat the addiction had been a daily struggle. "You have to say: `Today I am going to turn round and fight the drugs hell. It's the only way to escape'."

In an article entitled "How I fought my drugs hell," Maradona said how he took cocaine for the first time in 1982 and how his family - in particular his children - had suffered "much pain" as a result.

Maradona related how his daughter Gianina once asked him for a cup of water but he was unable to get up and go to her after collapsing onto his bed in a cocaine-induced stupor. "I couldn't get up. My hands were trembling.

Gianina again asked him for a drink of water, but he could not go to her as "the cocaine had put me in a complete haze".

He added that he was determined to ensure they would never suffer the same fate.

Maradona, now seeing out the end of his career with Boca Juniors, said he had accepted a request from Argentina's president, Carlos Menem, to join the anti-drugs campaign "for the children, because I suffered a lot from drugs - much more than anyone can appreciate."