Football / World Cup USA '94: Shame of a nation: Argentina's bad reaction: The loss of Maradona proved too much for his team as they struggled against Bulgaria and finished a surprising third in their group

DIEGO MARADONA began the week expecting to make history. As he left the United States for Argentina yesterday, suspended indefinitely from football for taking a 'cocktail' of five banned substances, he was history.

Thursday evening in the Cotton Bowl was to have been Maradona's record-breaking 22nd match in the finals of the World Cup. Instead he watched Argentina's 2-0 defeat by Bulgaria in a hotel room in downtown Dallas, emerging only briefly afterwards to tell the waiting press pack: 'That was not the real Argentina out there.'

Asked whether he had taken drugs, Maradona shook his head and said he did not need stimulants. He was clearly emotional, veering between tears and defiance as he gave his reaction to his expulsion from the squad. The Argentinian FA withdrew him following the discovery of proscribed drugs in a urine sample taken after last Saturday's 2-1 victory over Nigeria.

'I suffered a lot alone in my room, but I promised my daughters that I wouldn't cry, and I won't,' he said. 'To those who have condemned me without letting me defend myself, I say that they not only took away the happiness of Maradona but of many who love me.'

'They' are Fifa. Hours before the game with Bulgaria, football's governing body announced details of a second analysis of the sample taken from Maradona as part of the random doping controls. It revealed what Fifa's medical expert described as a 'cocktail' of banned substances, all related to ephedrine, a drug normally taken to relieve asthma, colds or sinus problems but also found in weight- reducing medications. Maradona lost 26 pounds in three months

before the tournament.

In his first response to the findings, Maradona appeared to be advancing a conspiracy theory (and where better to do it than Dallas, where every taxi-driver will tell you who was really behind the assassination of JFK). 'Fifa beat me over the head without any compunction,' Maradona claimed. 'They have retired me from soccer. There is a nation behind it, but they must not forget that we Argentinians live by football.'

His media compatriots were in no doubt that Maradona was alluding to Brazil, and specifically to Joao Havelange, the Brazilian president of Fifa. Havelange has spoken of his 'great sadness' over the positive drug test, saying that he prayed for a different result but adding: 'We cannot lie and medical facts do not lie.'

Fifa's drug-sampling procedure would not easily facilitate a Machiavellian plot against any one player. Slips of paper bearing the shirt numbers of every member of each team are put into two bags. Before the game, the Fifa 'doping doctor' draws out two slips from each bag in the presence of the Fifa commissioner and a representative of both teams.

The numbers are not looked at, but placed in a sealed envelope until 15 minutes from the end of the match when it is opened in front of the same team officials. They are then asked to bring the appropriate individuals to a test room, and it was there, in Boston's Foxboro Stadium, that Maradona's urine sample condemned him to an ignominious exit.

Without him, Argentina looked to be ambling to the draw which would have guaranteed their advance to the knock-out phase as Group D winners. On the hour, however, Hristo Stoichkov scored the kind of goal that has made him as feared in Spain as his Barcelona partner, Brazil's Romario.

That blow, and the sending-off of Bulgaria's Tsanko Zvetanov six minutes later, finally stirred Argentina. Bulgaria stood firm, Nasko Sirakov headed a second in time added on, and another late goal, by Nigeria against Greece, meant that Argentina suddenly dropped to third place.

Bulgaria thus qualified to meet Mexico in New Jersey on Tuesday. Argentina, who had anticipated a leisurely build-up to a match in Boston the same day, were instead forced to fly to Los Angeles yesterday and will have only today in which to prepare for the confrontation with a more rested

Romanian side tomorrow.

Alfio Basile, their coach, seemed confused by it all, suggesting at first that the result did not affect Argentina's chances of reaching the final, but adding: 'Our spirits were low, which was apparent on the pitch, and of course we missed Maradona. He's a great player, the leader of our team. All I will say is we love him and we always will.'

ARGENTINA (4-4-2): Islas (Independiente); Diaz (River Plate), Caceres (Real Zaragoza), Ruggeri (San Lorenzo), Chamot (Foggia); Balbo (Roma), Rodriguez (Atalanta), Redondo (Real Madrid), Simeone (Seville); Batistuta (Fiorentina), Caniggia (Roma). Substitutes: Ortega (River Plate) for Caniggia, 25; Medina Bello (Yokohama Marinos) for Rodriguez, 67.

BULGARIA (4-4-2): Mikhailov (Mulhouse); Kremenliev (Levski Sofia), Hubchev (Levski Sofia), Ivanov (Neuchatel Xamax), Zvetanov (Levski Sofia); Lechkov (Hamburg), Yankov (Levski Sofia), Sirakov (Levski Sofia), Balakov (Sporting Lisbon); Kostadinov (Porto), Stoichkov (Barcelona). Substitutes: Kiryakov (Lerida) for Kostadinov, 73; Borimirov (Levski Sofia) for Lechkov, 76.

(Photograph omitted)

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week