Maradona sedated, treated for alcohol, diet abuses
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Argentine soccer hero Diego Maradona remained sedated in a clinic Thursday for treatment of alcoholism and excessive eating and smoking.
A day after Maradona was taken by ambulance to the Guemes Sanatorium, clinic director Hector Pesera said the 47-year-old former star was under sedation to avoid problems with withdrawal from alcohol.
He said Maradona's life was not in danger and that he remained in stable condition and was improving.
"Alcoholism in Senor Maradona or in any other patient is not something to be taken lightly. One has to treat it," Pesera declared at the door of the clinic, his words carried live on Argentine television.
Maradona led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup championship and went on to become one of soccer's greatest players. In 2001, he was named by FIFA as one of the greatest players in soccer history, alongside Brazil's Pele.
Off the field, Maradona has battled cocaine addiction and obesity. In 2005, he underwent a gastric bypass surgery in Colombia and soon after sported a thinner look.
Maradona's physician, Alfredo Cahe, said the soccer great -- despite his own protests -- was taken to the clinic late Wednesday for health problems brought on by overeating, drinking and "the quantity of cigars he smoked."
He added Maradona woke early Thursday in his 13th-floor hospital bed and cursed him.
"He didn't want to be there," Cahe told Argentina's independent Radio Union. "After that, they sedated him again, and he slept."
Cahe said Maradona's health problems did not involve cocaine or other dangerous drugs but added Maradona had been in low spirits because of family and other problems.
"It was necessary to hospitalize him," Cahe said.
Local reports said Maradona had been seen recently frequenting local restaurants and nightclubs. Cahe recently told the sports daily Ole that he was considering sending Maradona to Switzerland to remove him from his social "environment" and better control his diet.
Maradona was hospitalized in Uruguay in 2000 and again in 2004 in Buenos Aires. Maradona was counseled for drug abuse in Argentina in 2004 and in September of that year traveled to Cuba for treatment at Havana's Center for Mental Health.
After leading Argentina to the 1990 World Cup final, he failed a drug test in 1991 and was banned for 15 months. He failed another drug test at the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States.
He retired in 1997.
Maradona has acknowledged he intentionally struck the ball with his hand in the famous "Hand of God" goal against England in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals -- calling that trick just "a bit of mischief."
The referee allowed the goal to stand, despite protests by the English team that Maradona appeared to punch the ball into the net.
That 1986 quarterfinal match against England also included what soccer's governing body declared the greatest goal in World Cup competition -- one in which Maradona dribbled half the length of the field, dodging nine opponents to score the winning goal.
Maradona's exploits have made him a national hero in Argentina, though the few fans waiting for news outside the hospital where overwhelmed by scores of reporters and camera crews.
Adrian Alonso, a 31-year-old fan, said he knows the former star isn't universally loved because of his antics on and off the field, but Alonso said he was ready to remain for days in a vigil outside the clinic.
"When he feels bad, I feel bad," Alonso said.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press