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Lax drug testing protected Maradona

Argentine FA chief Julio Grondona has admitted that doping controls were abandoned during the World Cup qualifying play-off against Australia in 1993 in a bid to protect Diego Maradona and other players.

• Off The Ball: Maradona's doped coffee
• Maradona wants Forlan at Al Wasl
• Duerden: Maradona faces the UAE heat

Grondona was responding to comments from former Agentina captain Maradona in a television interview on Monday, the Al Wasl manager claiming that the FIFA vice president allowed he and his Albiceleste team-mates to get away with taking a "speedy coffee", which led them to perform better.

Maradona's assertions hardly paint a glowing picture of Argentinian football's governing body, especially as Grondona confirmed he "tried to do away with doping controls" for the play-off, which Alfio Basile's side won 2-1 on aggregate.

"Maradona didn't play in other qualifying matches, and he came (into these matches) after having problems with drugs," Grondona was quoted as saying by Buenos Aires daily Clarin..

"Who knows if incorrectly - out of fear that things might happen - I tried to do away with doping controls because players came that I don't have in my country and one can't know what they are taking - or just stopped taking."

Maradona and Grondona have been publicly feuding since last year's World Cup, when Grondona declined to renew the former Napoli and Barcelona forward's contract as national team coach.

Grondona admitted there were no doping tests for either match, saying Australia officials had agreed to the deal, and refused to apologise for his role in the scandal.

"First of all, I don't have to repent because the majority of the Argentine people accept me." Grondona said. "This is my main motive. I don't feel defrauded. The only thing I think is that in life I look for excellence."

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