Sports

Maradona to rehab in psych hospital: doctor

Diego Maradona, who was in stable condition on Monday, faces a lengthy rehabilitation program for his lung and heart problems, says his doctor.

The soccer legend has been moved to a suburban Buenos Aires clinic specializing in mental health treatment for drug addictions.

Dr. Alfredo Cahe, Maradona's personal physician, expected the 43-year-old to remain hospitalized "for some time."

Maradona was rushed back to a Buenos Aires hospital early Wednesday morning, just days after he ended nearly two weeks of emergency treatment in intensive care for heart and lung problems.

On Monday, for the first time, Cahe referred to Maradona's past drug problems and suggested a possible link to his recent health complications, telling reporters: "Anyone who has ever had to deal with an addict in his family will understand what a tragedy this can be."

He added without elaborating: "My impression is that this may be the last opportunity we have" to help Maradona.

"I'm hopeful that Diego, facing this tough situation, will do whatever he needs to change," Cahe said. "So far, he hasn't done that."

Maradona, who led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title in Mexico, was admitted to the clinic on April 18 due to heart and blood pressure problems and was placed on a respirator. He was listed in critical condition for several days with doctors saying he was battling a heart inflammation condition and a lung infection.

It was the second time in recent years Maradona has been hospitalized.

For the last four years, Maradona has been undergoing drug rehabilitation in Cuba for cocaine addiction.

As the 1980s came to an end and the 1990s opened, Maradona's career began to flounder. Battling a weight problem and drug abuse, Maradona's game began to suffer. He left Napoli, floating between teams in Spain and Argentina, usually staying a year or less at each club.

He was suspended in Italy in 1991 for 15 months following a positive test for cocaine. Three years later, he was tossed off Argentina's World Cup side after he tested positive for the banned substance ephedrine, as FIFA slapped him with a 15-month suspension. Not only was the positive drug test a huge embarrassment for him, it also ended his career on the national team.

In 1995, he returned to Argentina's domestic league, where he played sporadically for two years - scoring only seven goals in 31 games - before finally retiring.

In 2000, FIFA, soccer's world governing body, chose Maradona as the game's best ever player, alongside Brazilian legend Pele.

with files from Associated Press

now