‘Diego was tired’: Maradona’s doctor investigated over his death

Buenos Aires: Argentinian justice officials have searched the home and offices of Diego Maradona's personal doctor as part of an investigation into the circumstances of the soccer star's death last week.

Prosecutors requested a search warrant for documents from the doctor, Leopoldo Luque, after collecting evidence and interviewing Maradona's relatives, according to a statement by the prosecutor's office in San Isidro, on Sunday (Monday AEDT). The statement did not provide more details.

Neurologist Leopoldo Luque, Diego Maradona’s former personal doctor, talks with journalists at his home in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sunday.Credit:La Nacion/AP

"We have started to analyse the material that was taken" from Luque's home and office, the statement said. It did not provide information on what prompted the probe.

"They took the clinical files," Luque told reporters.

"There was no medical error," Luque said, adding that he was not responsible for the death at home of the soccer player who catapulted to international fame and semi-divine status after leading the Argentinian team that won the 1986 World Cup.

In later years, Maradona struggled with substance abuse issues. "Diego was tired, tired of being 'Maradona'", Luque said.

Soccer fans gather outside Clinica Olivos where former soccer star Diego Maradona was to undergo surgery before his death.Credit:AP

The player's lawyer, Matias Moria, on Thursday said he would ask for a full investigation of the circumstances of the soccer legend's death, criticising what he said was a slow response by emergency service.

"The ambulance took more than half an hour to arrive, which was criminal idiocy," Matias said on Thursday in a Twitter post.

Prosecutors have disputed that timeline and said the ambulance arrived in 12 minutes.

It was the latest soap-operatic turn since Maradona, 60, died on Wednesday, plunging Argentina into three days of national mourning. Widely perceived as one of the game's best players, Maradona had a rags-to-riches story that took him from a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of Buenos Aires to global celebrity, a journey that resonated with many Argentinians.

Police stand guard the entrance of Dr Leopoldo Luque’s practice in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sunday.Credit:AP

Another former doctor for Maradona, Alfredo Cahe, called his death "unusual", adding that a doctor should have been stationed in his room and that Maradona should have stayed in the hospital after his operation.

Luque disputes that allegation, claiming no one could force Maradona to stay in the hospital against his will.

Luque said he had he cooperated with law enforcement and was ready to answer any questions from prosecutors.

"We gave them all the information they needed," he said in a news conference at his home. "I'm absolutely certain I did the best that I could for Diego."

Luque, a neurosurgeon, painted a picture of a soccer superstar who was "very difficult" and had to be convinced to take care of his health. Maradona "kicked me out of his house many times," he added.

He said a faster ambulance service would not have saved the star's life. "You would have needed medical equipment at his house, including a respirator."

Law enforcement officials seized Maradona's medical history, computers, notebooks, prescription pads and other documents from Luque's home and office, prosecutors said.

More intrigue built after sources told news outlets that a nurse who wrote in a report that she had checked on Maradona the morning of his death did not actually do so.

The searches were carried out after Maradona's daughters asked for a review of medications prescribed by Luque and his team, according to the newspaper Clarín.

Maradona was famous for leading Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup, scoring an iconic goal in a quarterfinal against England, after a first controversial goal that became known as having been helped by “the hand of God”. But beyond his sporting accomplishments, he was known for his leftist politics and his honesty over his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction.

The New York Times, Reuters

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