Smart hosts first 5G-powered esports exhibition match in PH (L-R): CEO of Mayweather Promotions Leonard Ellerbe, WBC/WBA welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr., WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao, and Top Rank Founder and CEO Bob Arum pose during a news conference at the KA Theatre at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on April 29, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mayweather and Pacquiao will face each other in a unification bout on May 2, 2015 in Las Vegas. AFP PHOTO / JOHN GURZINSKI / AFP PHOTO / JOHN GURZINSKIHOLLYWOOD—It wasn’t just eye contact between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. at ringside, after all.Mayweather, the flamboyant American who retired as unbeaten champion, gave his former ring rival the thumbs up after Pacquiao’s dominant conquest of Jessie Vargas on Saturday night at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.ADVERTISEMENT “He (Mayweather) was having eye contact (with Pacquiao),” said Mike Koncz, Pacquiao’s adviser. “Yeah, because even after the fight, when Manny stood in that corner and and put his hands up for his fans, he looked at Floyd and Floyd gave him the thumbs up. i saw it.”That little gesture could be a sign of bigger things to come as Mayweather had announced that he’s contemplating on returning to the ring he ruled with Pacquiao several years back.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra teammates show love for SlaughterSPORTSWe are youngSPORTSCone plans to speak with Slaughter, agentCoincidentally, promoter Bob Arum told ESPN on Monday that Pacquiao will definitely fight in the spring and there’s a 75 percent chance that he’d be facing Mayweather in a rematch.Pacquiao and Mayweather tangled in a super blockbuster in May 2015, with the American beating the eighth-division world champion, who suffered a rotator cuff tear on his right shoulder in the course of the bout, by unanimous decision. View comments MOST READ 30 Filipinos from Wuhan quarantined in Capas Mainland China virus cases exceed 40,000; deaths rise to 908 Where did they go? Millions left Wuhan before quarantine Chinese-manned vessel unsettles Bohol town Taiwan minister boards cruise ship turned away by Japan PLAY LIST 01:31Taiwan minister boards cruise ship turned away by Japan01:33WHO: ‘Global stocks of masks and respirators are now insufficient’01:01WHO: now 31,211 virus cases in China 102:02Vitamin C prevents but doesn’t cure diseases like coronavirus—medic03:07’HINDI PANG-SPORTS LANG!’03:03SILIP SA INTEL FUND Smart’s Siklab Saya: A multi-city approach to esports Nowhere near what a Pacquiao-Mayweather rematch will generate, of course.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next His injury completely healed, Pacquiao staged a virtuoso performance to wrest Vargas’ World Boxing Organization welterweight crown.With his similarly lopsided victory over Tim Bradley last April 9 factored in, Pacquiao was put back on top of the pound-for-pound rankings by some boxing evaluating bodies.On Monday, Pacquiao told a small group of foreign and Filipino reporters at his Wynn suite jokingly said that he’s probably in the top 50 of the pound-for-pound list.Among those cited by Pacquiao as top pound-for-pound contenders are Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin, Terence Crawford and Vasyl Lomachenco.Apart from Mayweather, Koncz said he is also considering Adrien Broner for Pacquiao’s next assignment because the fight will sell.ADVERTISEMENT EDITORS’ PICK PH among economies most vulnerable to virus We are young As fate of VFA hangs, PH and US forces take to the skies for exercise Manny Pacquiao signs new deal with Chinese sportswear brand Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Shanghai officials reveal novel coronavirus transmission modes
Phivolcs: Slim probability of Taal Volcano caldera eruption 11 nabbed for shabu, drug den busted in Maguindanao Taal evacuees make the most of ‘unusual’ clothing donations, leaves online users laughing Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Will you be the first P16 Billion Powerball jackpot winner from the Philippines? Steaming fissures on Taal Volcano Island spotted IAAF claims Olympic champion Caster Semenya is ‘biologically male’ Rio’s unsafe Olympic Park ordered closed by Brazilian judge Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, who won the Stuttgart Open on Sunday, defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-4 for a second-round meeting with compatriot Andreas Seppi.Seppi beat Mats Moraing 6-4 (7), 6-4.Other winners Tuesday included Roberto Bautista Agut, David Goffin, Richard Gasquet, Sergiy Stakhovsky and Jan-Lennard StruffADVERTISEMENT Solon urges Solgen to reconsider quo warranto petition vs ABS-CBN LATEST STORIES View comments MOST READ Deandre Ayton shines as Suns pound Knicks Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia PLAY LIST 00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award03:05Malakanyang bilib sa Phivolcs | Chona Yu01:26Homes destroyed after Taal Volcano eruption FILE – Switzerland’s Roger Federer reacts as he plays against Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer during their men’s singles fourth round match on day eight of The Roland Garros 2019 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 2, 2019. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)HALLE, Germany — Roger Federer began his bid for a record-extending 10th Halle Open title with a 7-6 (1), 6-3 win over Australia’s John Millman on Tuesday, with defending champion Borna Coric also advancing.Federer, who lost to Coric in last year’s final, hit nine aces and saved the only break point he faced to beat Millman in 1 hour, 17 minutes.ADVERTISEMENT Federer next faces Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who defeated French compatriot Benoit Paire 6-4, 7-5 at the grass-court tournament.Federer already has the best grass-court record in the Open era with 18 titles, and the 37-year-old can set a personal record with his 10th at a single event in Halle.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGolden State Warriors sign Lee to multiyear contract, bring back ChrissSPORTSCoronation night?SPORTSThirdy Ravena gets offers from Asia, Australian ball clubsFederer and Tsonga played only once before on grass, with the French player coming from two sets down to win at Wimbledon in 2011.The fourth-seeded Coric defeated Spain’s Jaume Munar 7-6 (2), 6-3 and will next face Portuguese qualifier Joao Sousa in the second round. Olympic rings arrive in host city on barge into Tokyo Bay
Juventus have pulled out of the race for Liverpool target Stefan de Vrij, according to reports in Italy.The defender’s future with Lazio is still up in the air as he has not extended his contract, which expires in June.That has left Lazio in the tricky situation of either selling the Dutchman in January or risking losing him for free in the summer.Liverpool are keeping a close eye on the situation, while some reports claim Inter Milan have provisionally agreed terms with De Vrij.One side who definitely is out of the running anymore though, according to Gazzetta dello Sport, is Juventus.The Italian champions had been hot on the heels of the 25-year-old, but they have now binned their pursuit due to the progress of Mattia Caldara.The centre-back, 23, has shone while on loan at Atalanta and Juve believe he is ready to step into the first team when he arrives in the summer. Liverpool target Stefan de Vrij 1
Richard Kerr ended his 2019 season in style with a double win at the Sunflower Trophy Races. Kilmacrennan man Kerr was on board the Campbell Motorsport triumph.Kerr was on pole position for both races after qualifying and was made to work hard for his victories. Northwest 200 record breaker Alistair Seeley was runner up behind the young Donegal man in race one with Ross Patterson third. In race two, Kerr got away in the lead but was closely followed by Eunan McGlinchey and Ross Patterson.McGlinchey took the lead briefly but Kerr kept his composure and passed the Ahadowey man with two laps to go and took the flag.Richard also competed in the main Sunflower Trophy Race on his Supersport machine against the bigger machines and finished in a fantastic seventh position. Richard Kerr ends fine season with double win was last modified: October 27th, 2019 by Chris McNultyShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:kilmacrennanRichard KerrSunflower Trophy Races
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon has been dropped from Australia’s squad for the one-day international series in New Zealand next month, while in-form batsman Usman Khawaja has also been overlooked for the three-match series.Uncapped legspinner Adam Zampa replaces Lyon in the only change to a squad that lost the final ODI against India on Saturday. The hosts won that series 4-1.”This squad remains largely unchanged after a fantastic series win against India,” national selector Rod Marsh said in a statement. “We have selected Adam Zampa as the spinning option for this tour in place of Nathan Lyon.”We want Nathan to use the New South Wales versus West Australia Sheffield Shield match in New Zealand as preparation for the Test series and this will give us a chance to have a good look at Adam ahead of the ICC World T20.”Australia will play two tests in New Zealand at the conclusion of the ODI series.Left-hander Khawaja has scored five centuries and three half-centuries in his last nine innings in Test cricket and Australia’s ‘Big Bash League’ Twenty20 tournament.Khawaja, who was drafted into Australia’s squad for the second and third match against India after opener David Warner went on paternity leave, has played only three ODIs, the last coming against West Indies in Perth nearly three years ago.”He doesn’t have to do any more,” Marsh said in Adelaide on Monday. “He’s in red-hot form and it’s just a shame we can’t fit Usman in.”We tried our hardest to work him into the side but we just couldn’t find anyone to drop.”advertisementSquad: Steve Smith (captain), David Warner, George Bailey, Scott Boland, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa
AdvertisementThe European Club Association (ECA) are pushing UEFA to revamp the existing Champions League rules, laws and working into a more ‘advanced’ competition many dub to be a ‘Super Champions League’. The new proposed way of running the competition will be adopted after the bumper TV broadcasting deals of various leagues at large expire at the end of the 2023-24 season, should the ECA’s bill be passed by UEFA. A majority of Europe’s elite clubs got together for their General Assembly in Amsterdam meeting last month, wherein the present format and running of the Champions League was discussed, and the ECA have proposed a brand new format of their own for the proceedings of Europe’s elitemost contest, in addition to other competitions including the national leagues and the Europa League.PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS & QUALIFICATIONThe most striking part of the meeting was the exclusion of Premier League sides, which the ECA openly admit to doing, claiming they wish to be away from the Premier League’s TV broadcasting deals. They hail the unfair monetary advantage Premier League has over its competitors as overseas broadcasting generates a total revenue of around £4.05b over a 3-year cycle, on top of the £5b it earns for domestic rights from Sky, BT Sport and Amazon Prime.Now this, in particular, is noteworthy since the ECA’s proposed way of running the Champions League challenges or much rather refutes, among other things, the Premier League’s almost sacred tradition of Champions League qualification, viz. the prestigious Top 4 places, and aims to replace it with an all new procedure that will take into consideration a variable – qualification co-efficient – that favors historical powers.One way to look at it is: a ‘small club’ with not much history, per se, is almost ineligible for Champions League participation, meaning the usual select few will be the only faces in the league, year in and year out.TWO GROUP STAGESThe usual first round format of the Champions League, viz. eight groups consisting of four clubs, inculcating in a single group stage with six games being played in every group, has been proposed to be inverted in the sense that 32 clubs will now be bifurcated into four groups consisting of eight clubs. This results in every club playing fourteen games in every group, and effectively, a single group stage will now be divided into two group stages.WEEKEND FIXTURESIn addition to the aforementioned format, another structural clause proposes to shift all the Champions League games of the participating sides on the weekend, much like the respective national league fixtures. This, however, will result in the national league games being shifted to mid-week.The plan includes shifting only the Champions League’s quarter-final to final fixtures on the weekend, in the initial phase, and later moving the whole tournament on the weekends for all rounds.This comes on top of Premier League managers Mauricio Pochettino and Jurgen Klopp, both openly expressing their chagrin with the run-in of fixtures either their teams or their European oppositions have had for a tie.UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin altogether denied any such proposal had been put forth.“We haven’t discussed weekends, just to clear that up once and for all,” Ceferin said, while representatives of Spanish clubs in the Dutch capital, too, echoed Ceferin’s words.EXPANSION OF THE EUROPA LEAGUEIn order to compensate for the ‘restrictive’ proposed Champions League qualification and participation, developments will be made in the Europa League’s way of running. This change, however, comes into effect the very next season, and will have two divisions to accommodate more clubs in the second-tier European competition.An ECA representative was quoted saying:“But the big clubs will have their exclusive competition. And if they move it to the weekends the impact on the rest of more modest football and on the national leagues will be devastating”.On the other side of the spectrum, the Bundesliga, which does not have the same cycle of selling rights as UEFA and the Champions League, has already discussed legal action if its 2024-2025 domestic season is disrupted by more fixtures for clubs in European competitions.It yet remains to be seen how the major clubs in Europe as well as in England look at the proposal, especially given that FIFA plan to bring in their own Club World Cup starting from 2021.Read also:-Impressive statistic shows none better for free-kicks than Messi in last 5 seasonsReal entice Varane to stay, will offer him a pay raise Advertisement
Fernando Llorente wants a return to Athletic Bilbao after failing to make an impact at Tottenham.The Spanish striker moved from Swansea to White Hart Lane in summer of 2017 for £13.5 million but has scored just once in 17 Premier League appearances – all but one from from bench.Harry Kane’s dominant position as Spurs’ main goalscorer has meant limited opportunity for the 33-year-old and he has spoken openly of his desire to move to the club where he was a big favourite between 2005 and 2013. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Man Utd ready to spend big on Sancho and Haaland in January Who is Marcus Thuram? Lilian’s son who is top of the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! “I would like to go back to Athletic. My priority is to feel important in the team,” he told Cadena SER. “If I have the opportunity and can talk to them, for me, yes, I would like to go back.”Llorente is contracted to Tottenham until June 2019 with the club having the option of a 12-month extension.But while he has clearly set his sights on leaving in the January transfer window, the veteran forward acknowledges his future is dependent on an Athletic aproach and Spurs chairman Daniel Levy agreeing a move. He added: “Leaving in the winter market does not depend on me, Athletic would have to talk to Tottenham and Levy.”Manager Mauricio Pochettino left Llorente out of his squad for Saturday’s Premier League win over Leicester.Even with Kane resting on the bench, the Spurs boss went with a strikeforce of Lucas Moura and Heung-Min Son and named rarely-used French winger Georges-Kevin Nkoudou among the Spurs substitutes.Llorente did make it off the bench for the Chamlions League draw with Barcelona on Tuesday which sealed Spurs’ passage to the next round.He spent two seasons in Serie A with Juventus, winning two titles, and a year with Sevilla as well as his time with Swansea after leaving Bilbao.Llorente was a member of Spain’s victorious 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 squads.
West Brom and Brighton face-off in an FA Cup fourth-round replay for a chance to play Derby County in the next round.With Brighton looking safe in the Premier League they may look to this competition as a real chance to lift some silverware with a favourable draw in the next round and multiple top teams already eliminated from the competition.West Brom will have promotion at the forefront of their minds but a win here to boost their confidence may be exactly what they need. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Man Utd ready to spend big on Sancho and Haaland in January Who is Marcus Thuram? Lilian’s son who is top of the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! Game West Brom vs Brighton Date Wednesday, February 6 Time 8:05pm GMT / 3:05pm ET TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch In the United States (US), the game can be streamed via ESPN+ US TV channel Online stream N/A ESPN+ In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will by shown on BBC One and can be streamed on the BS UK TV channel Online stream BBC One BT Sport Live Squads & Team News Position West Brom players Goalkeepers Johnstone, Myhill, Bond Defenders Gibbs, Bartley, Mears, Townsend, Adarabioyo, Dawson, Hegazi, Holgate, Melbourne Midfielders Johansen, Morrison, Livermore, Phillips, Montero, Brunt, Barry, Hoolahan, Field, Harper, Murphy Forwards Robson-Kanu, Gayle, Rodriguez, Leko, Edwards, West Brom will be without ineligible loanees Stefan Johansen and Jefferson Montero, who joined after the original game, and the cup-tied Jacob Murphy.Potential West Brom starting XI: Johnstone; Holgate, Adarabioyo, Hegazi, Mears, Barry, Livermore, Hoolahan; Robson-Kanu, Leko, Rodriguez. Position Brighton players Goalkeepers Ryan, Button, Steele Defenders Dunk, Duffy, Bruno, Montoya, Bong, Bernardo, Balogun, Burn Midfielders Bissouma, Propper, Stephens, Kayal, Gross, March, Izquierdo, Knockaert, Jahanbakhsh Forwards Locadia, Murray, Andone Brighton also have a fully available squad and, with the FA Cup looking a winnable competition, they may go with a strong team here.Potential Brighton starting XI: Ryan, Bernardo, Dunk, Duffy, Balogun; Propper, Stephens, Gross; Izquierdo, Knockaert, MurrayBetting & Match Odds Despite being the away team Brighton are favoured for this fixture with odds of 29/20 being given for a Seagulls win. A draw can be backed at 12/5 whilst a West Brom win is priced at 21/10Click here to see all of bet 365’s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more. Match Preview Both teams will be looking for better performances than in the previous meeting which ended 0-0 and forced this replay.Derby await the winners of this tie and due to Frank Lampard’s team being weaker opposition both of these sides may fancy their chances of getting a step closer to Wembley this season.Chris Hughton has to be relishing this competition as Brighton have a real shot of lifting some silverware for the first time in their history, with two Championship clubs standing between them and the quarter-finals.Hughton will not make the mistake of underestimating his opponents as he realises that West Brom have a squad ready for the top flight.“It’s a big challenge for us. We’re up against a team that are in a very good position in the Championship,” said Hughton.“What they will be doing is giving everything they can to get straight back to the Premier League.”Hughton was clearly impressed with West Brom’s business in January as they signed four players with top-level experience; Jefferson Montero, Stefan Johansen, Jacob Murphy and Mason Holgate. Although only Holgate from the new arrivals is available for this game.“They’ve brought in some good players in this window, so they’ve got a very good squad and a team that has recently been in the Premier League.”Baggies boss Darren Moore believes that the team spirit at the Hawthorns could be the deciding factor in this fixture”We’re in an exciting part of the season, the confidence is good here, the team morale and togetherness is there. We’re fighting for one another.”With promotion still West Brom’s main aim they may rest players with an important game against Stoke at the weekend, whilst Brighton look safe in the Premier League so they can prioritise the FA Cup.
Lausanne, Apr 30 (PTI) The International Boxing Association (AIBA) today claimed that it has become WADA-compliant since adopting a revamped anti-doping programme, which was cited as an area of concern by the IOC when it threatened to expel the sport from the 2020 Olympics. “Following the review of the International Boxing Associations Corrective Action Report (CAR), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) concluded that all non-conformities based on the CAR have been addressed appropriately by AIBA,” the AIBA said in a statement. AIBA has been ordered to revamp its doping programme, its judging and refereeing system and the governance structure by the International Olympic Committee to save boxing from expulsion from the 2020 Games. After outsourcing the management of its anti-doping programme, the AIBA is likely to join the Independent Testing Authority by June this year. “Being in compliance with the World Anti-Doping marks a big achievement for AIBA and shows its commitment to move our organisation forward. We believe this is just the first step and we will continue our talks with WADA as we working together in the fight for clean sport,” AIBA Executive Director Tom Virgets said. AIBA said it is currently making “strong efforts” to ensure a secure and functional Anti-Doping system is in place during the World Championships next year. With its new partners, the Global Association of International Sports Federations? (GAISF) and Doping-Free Sport Unit (DFSU), AIBA is currently establishing a new anti-doping educational programme dedicated to ensuring that “all AIBA member federations and athletes understand the applicable rules and regulations”.advertisement The IOC has also objected to to the appointment of Uzbek Gafur Rakhimov as AIBA President owing to his alleged links to financial crimes, a criticism that has been rejected by AIBA. PTI PM PM PM
Diego Maradona Cocaine, cover-ups and the incredible story of Diego Maradona’s last match Daniel Edwards Last updated 2 years ago 21:00 10/25/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Boca Juniors River Plate Superliga Coached by disgraced sprinter Ben Johnson and playing after presidential intervention to hide a positive cocaine test, Diego said goodbye on his terms Exactly 20 years ago to this day, Diego Maradona said farewell to the world of professional football. The story that began on the parched wastegrounds of Buenos Aires’ Villa Fiorito slum ended in the most incongruent of backdrops – the bowels of the Monumental Stadium belonging to Boca Juniors’ and Diego’s arch-rivals River Plate – minutes after the Xeneize had prevailed in the Superclasico by downing their adversaries 2-1.That game, and its aftermath, drew the curtain on the career of one of the most talented and contradictory characters ever to star on a football field. And while hardly a fairytale ending for the troubled World Cup winner, the story of that final adios marked a fitting, if at times bizarre, conclusion for a man who had seemed destined to bow out of the sport he loved in scandal and ignominy. And most curiously of all, by rights Diego should not even have taken the field.The year was 1997. During the presidency of Ferrari-driving playboy Carlos Saul Menem Argentina had entered a phoney economic boom, underpinned by the pegging of the notoriously unstable peso to the US dollar and financed by indiscriminate privatisation of public services and astronomic borrowing. That debt bubble would eventually explode in 2001 to catastrophic effect, but in the meantime the Argentine middle class enjoyed unheard of prosperity and a new jetset was born. In a country suddenly beholden to the gods of capital, Boca were held up as the symbol of this brave new age. Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player Mauricio Macri, the eldest son of an Italian immigrant who had amassed one of Argentina’s largest fortunes managing hefty public works contracts, was the man leading the club. Macri had run for election at the Bombonera in 1995 as the first step towards cleaning up his public image as a spoilt, model-dating daddy’s boy, a road that would later take him to the mayorship of Buenos Aires and, in 2015, the Argentine presidency itself. Success, however, proved elusive, and two years into his Boca tenure the club had failed to lift a single title. Under pressure to deliver on his grandiose promises, Macri turned to a Xeneize idol.Maradona too was far removed from his glory days with Argentina and Napoli. The 18-month suspension handed down for doping offences at the 1994 World Cup had forced the star into coaching, sitting on the bench for Racing Club and Deportivo Mandiyu in two short, chaotic spells. Once the ban expired he had returned to Boca, but the move proved a fiasco. Out of shape and in the throes of a damaging cocaine addiction, Maradona lasted less than a year at the Bombonera before dropping out of football again. One of the few highlights was a passionate kiss shared with Claudio Caniggia during a Superclasico win over River.Speaking for a drugs charity in 1996, the ailing legend came clean: “Drugs are everywhere and I do not want kids to take them. I have two girls and I thought it best to say this, a father’s obligation… I was, am and always will be a drug addict”.Conditions, then, were hardly ideal for his comeback. Nevertheless, on April 21, 1997 and just two weeks after being rushed to hospital with hypertension, Maradona signed a new contract with Boca. The star was fresh from a spell in a Swiss rehab clinic and took to the pitch for the first time in July. He even hired a curious personal trainer to whip him back into shape: disgraced Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, who had been found guilty of doping offences after winning gold at the 1988 Olympic Games.“One day I turned up to training and Maradona was trying to install a treadmill in the Boca dressing room,” Hector Vieira, who coached the Xeneize at the time recalled. “He had Ben Johnson, he had Austrian masseurs, a Belgian fitness instructor.“They couldn’t get the treadmill into the dressing room, they had to break down a door. And I came in with the whistle around my neck, I said, ‘The only person missing here is Don King!’”Johnson, meanwhile, who for a while was convinced he was the reincarnation of an Egyptian pharaoh and also acted as personal trainer for late Libyan dictator Muammar Gadaffi, enjoyed a warm, if slightly fearful, relationship with his charge. “Don’t ever cross him”, the ex-sprinter said to the Mail on Sunday . “He knows some serious people.” For his part Diego had no regrets about the link-up: in his autobiography he referred to Johnson as, “The fastest man on earth – no matter what anyone says.”They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place, but that proved untrue for the duo. In August 1997 a familiar demon raised its head. After starring in a 4-2 victory over Argentinos Juniors Diego failed yet another doping test, showing positive for trace elements related to cocaine use. The fallout from that episode resembled a scene from the Stanley Kubrick classic Doctor Strangelove, with Boca, Maradona’s agent Guillermo Coppola, the Argentine FA and even the government making a frantic series of telephone calls in order to protect the star from punishment.According to an investigation published at the time in Clarín, both president Menem and Buenos Aires governor Eduardo Duhalde were following the case closely and offered to meet with Maradona to show their support. What is beyond doubt is that a federal judge’s injunction ordered the AFA to refrain from imposing a ban on the star, due to alleged irregularities in the urine test that would be dismissed months later. “An exceptional person deserved an exceptional solution,” Duhalde said at the time, while the player’s former agent Jorge Cyszterspiler was more direct: “A whole country revolves around Diego. He brings in the television, he fills a stadium, he lifts the people.”So it was that Maradona was cleared to play once more. But ill fortune continued to plague him. In a Supercopa game against Colo Colo he suffered an injury that sent him once more to the sidelines, and little by little it began to dawn on him that his playing days were all but over. El Pibe de Oro, typically, decided to bring the curtain down on his own terms. The Superclasico would be his final flourish, the perfect end to a saga that had lasted more than 20 years since his debut as a fresh-faced, afro-sporting teenager at Argentinos.It was far from a vintage performance. Maradona struggled to get into the game, and was powerless to act as Sergio Berti put River ahead in the Monumental. At half time Vieira shuffled his deck, and Diego was taken off. Popular folklore has his heir-apparent, 19-year-old Juan Roman Riquelme, entering for his fellow No. 10, but the Boca team sheet that day shows Claudio Caniggia as his replacement – Riquelme came on at the same time, but for Nelson Vivas.Diego stayed on the bench, directing a few less than complimentary gestures at the Millonario fans as goals from Julio Cesar Toresani and Martin Palermo sealed a famous victory for the visitors. “Boca played like Boca and River were River. They played a great first half and then their panties fell down,” he fired at the final whistle, one of the countless phrases that have passed into the annals of football legend. Days later, on his 37th birthday and dogged by reports of the failed drugs test so carefully concealed, he officially hung up his boots, never to return as a professional.Maradona never completed his formal education, getting as far as his first year of high school before dropping out to focus on football. But he has nevertheless made almost as grand a contribution to the Spanish language as the likes of Cervantes, Borges and Garcia Marquez with his unique take on the world. In 2001, four years after that last game, he finally played his official farewell at the Bombonera in a testimonial clash. There he uttered one of his most famous statements: “Football is the healthiest and most important sport in the world. I have made mistakes, and I have paid, but the ball cannot be stained.”For better or for worse, Diego did things his way from start to finish, and nowhere is that more evident than in the way he signed off in typical fashion, baiting a rabid Monumental and celebrating another win for his beloved Boca.