Argentinian midfielder Diego Maradona is surrounded by journalists 30 June 1994 in Dallas, after learning he tested positive in a drug test following the World Cup match between Argentina and Nigeria. Photo: MIKE NELSON


Rio de Janeiro - Argentina's last World Cup group match against Nigeria on Wednesday brings back unhappy memories for the two-time world champions.

Exactly 20 years ago to the day - on June 25, 1994 - Diego Maradona was selected to undergo a doping test.

The opponents in Boston then as in Porto Alegre tomorrow were Nigeria. Five days later, the result was known.

The 1986 world champion had used the stimulants ephedrine und norephedrine and was banned for the rest of the tournament.

The positive test led to the end of the then 33-year-old football great's career and Argentina's exit at the 1994 World Cup in the United States. Until then, the tournament had gone well for Maradona.

A 4-0 opening victory over Greece was followed by a 2-1 win over Nigeria. On the day of the positive doping test result, Argentina were playing their last group game against Bulgaria.

A shocked Argentina team lost 2-0, and a few days later went out in the last 16 with a 3-2 defeat to Romania.

A whole generation of Argentinians can still recall the image of a blonde nurse accompanying a still smiling number 10 by the hand from the pitch to go to the doping control.

Julio Grondona, then as now Argentinian football federation president, could have fought to prevent Maradona's expulsion but didn't, according to the journalists Andres Burgos and Alejandro Wall in a recent book published in Argentina.

Grondona did not want to upset football's world governing body Fifa, the journalists maintain.

“He had to choose to whom he owed more loyalty, Maradona or Fifa. He decided on Fifa,” Burgo told dpa.