Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Drugs Net Maradona 15-Month Ban

ZURICH -- World soccer's governing body FIFA banned star Diego Maradona from playing nationally or internationally for 15 months because he took a banned stimulant during the World Cup, his lawyer said Wednesday.

A FIFA official confirmed the penalty, to run through Sept. 29, 1995, and said Maradona was also fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($15,400).

"I'm very angry and disappointed," said Maradona's lawyer, Daniel Balotnicoff, after a two-hour, 45-minute closed-door hearing of a FIFA disciplinary committee.

FIFA had suspended Maradona, 33, captain of the Argentinean team, from playing June 30 after he failed a routine, random drug test June 25 following Argentina's second match of the World Cup against Nigeria.

The panel, whose decision is final, had to decide whether any further punishment would be meted out and could have gone so far as to ban Maradona from the sport for life.

Guillermo Canedo, chairman of the panel, translated from a statement in Spanish that said Maradona was banned "from all football activities" for 15 months, starting with the first day he was suspended, June 30. Canedo declined to comment on the reasoning behind the panel's decision because "the motivation is something that is very delicate."

Joseph Blatter, the general secretary of FIFA, said the panel listened to Maradona's representatives, including Balotnicoff and Marcos Franchi, the player's manager. "His defense was based on the truth," said Balotnicoff.

Maradona and his supporters said he innocently took a diet drug as a replacement for one he was taking, not realizing the substitute contained the banned stimulant ephedrine, traces of which were found in his urine in the test.

FIFA spokesman Andreas Herren said there was no doubt about the test itself, and the medical issue was not in question for the hearing. Analyses at the University of California in Los Angeles confirmed the presence of five ephedrine derivatives in the urine sample.

Also representing Maradona at the hearing was Julio Grondona, president of the Argentinean football association.

Maradona's case is almost unprecedented in international soccer, which has had few reported cases of doping and which has refused to go along with other sports in establishing an automatic two-year suspension for serious first violations.