By ANITA SNOW
HAVANA (AP) -- Former Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona arrived
Tuesday morning in Cuba to be treated for drug abuse after a hospitalization
in his homeland that was brought on by cocaine use.
Alfredo Cahe, Maradona's personal doctor, announced Monday night that
the former Argentine national team captain would travel here after leaving the
Buenos Aires clinic where he had been under treatment for heart problems.
The doctor did not indicate which medical center will treat Maradona, 39,
saying only it was located in Havana. He also didn't say how long the soccer
great will remain in rehab.
For almost a week, doctors had been trying to persuade Maradona to seek
a drug rehabilitation program outside of Argentina after his emergency
hospitalization in Uruguay two weeks ago.
After being driven to the hospital by a friend, Maradona was admitted to
intensive care and diagnosed with high blood pressure and an irregular
heartbeat. Blood and urine samples taken a day later revealed cocaine.
Cahe said Maradona opted for Cuba because of his difficulties in obtaining
visa to travel to the United States, where he has been denied entry after
testing positive for stimulants during the 1994 World Cup.
Maradona is an admirer of Fidel Castro and met the Cuban president on a
1987 visit to the island to pick up an award as best South American athlete
for the previous year.
Maradona is considered to be one of the greatest soccer players ever.
Besides winning club titles with teams in his native country and Italy, he
almost single-handedly led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title and
returned four years later to take Argentina to the World Cup title match that
it lost 1-0 to Germany.
Doctors treating Maradona have said his heart was working at less than
its capacity when he was hospitalized. They have warned continued drug use
could endanger his life.
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.