Former Argentina teammates of Diego Maradona confirmed his claims that there were no doping controls before World Cup playoffs with Australia in 1993, but said they had no knowledge of receiving performance-enhancing drugs.
Former Australia captain Paul Wade said in published comments on Wednesday that Argentina were under too much pressure to qualify for the 1994 finals that he would not be surprised if they had resorted to taking performance-enhancing drugs.
He added he was “absolutely gutted” after hearing of Maradona’s comments.
Maradona said on Argentine television on Monday that the players were given an unspecified stimulant before the two-legged playoff to decide which team would qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the US.
“What happened is that to play against Australia we were given a speedy coffee. They put something in the coffee and that's why we ran more,” Maradona told The Football Show.
Maradona said Argentine Football Association President Julio Grondona knew about the doping. He said Argentina faced doping controls before every qualifier until the playoffs with Australia. “That's the cheat and Grondona knew about it,” Maradona said.
Maradona's teammates agreed there were no drug tests before the matches but deny consciously taking any illegal substances.
“We knew there wasn't going to be any anti-doping control a few days before, but we didn't attach any importance to it,” midfielder Hugo Perez told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
“We just concentrated on playing, but what Diego said about there being no control is true.”
Perez said it was difficult to give precise details about what happened because it was a long time ago, but remembers the players could drink either water or coffee.