ROME -- The Italian scccer league Disciplinary Committee Thursday disqualified Argentine star Claudio Caniggia for 13 months after he admitted using cocaine two days before an Italian league match.
Caniggia will be suspended from playing football in Italy until May 8, 1994, the committee ruled. The committee also fined Caniggia's AS Roma club 100 million Italian lire ($64,500) for 'indirect responsibility' in the 26-year-old Argentine striker's offense.
Caniggia will be free to play for Argentina in the scccer World Cup finals to be held in the United States from June 17-July 17, 1994, but he may not be selected for the Argentine national team after sitting out 13 months.
The suspension and fine are subject to appeals to the Italian scccer federation's Appeals Committee. If confirmed they would presumably be followed by a similar disqualification by the International Football Federation, (FIFA), which would suspend Caniggia worldwide. This is what happened in the case of Argentine scccer star Diego Maradona, who was disqualified for 15 months in April, 1991, after being found guilty of using cocaine while he was captain of Italy's Napoli league scccer club.
The committee found Caniggia guilty of infringing Articles 32 and 34 of the Italian Code of Sporting Justice, which cover doping offenses. Caniggia appeared before the Disciplinary Committee for 15 minutes, after which the sporting judges took 90 minutes to reach their decision.
'The Committee seemed to me to be very understanding,' said Franco Coppi, the attorney who represented Caniggia at the hearing. 'Caniggia explained the facts the way they happened. That is, that he smoked a cocaine cigarette on the Friday before the Roma-Napoli match and to have done it in a moment of weakness.'
A urine sample taken from Caniggia in a random doping test after Roma's 1-1 draw with Napoli March 21 tested positive for cocaine, and the result was confirmed by a second analysis by other sporting medical experts April 6.
Soccer federation prosecutor Cesare Martellino, asked about the 'cocaine cigarette' Caniggia said he smoked, told reporters: 'There exists a type of pure cocaine, which however is treated in a way to be resistant to heat, that can be smoked. It has effects similar to those of crack, but, unlike crack, it is not synthetic.'
Martellino said when cocaine is smoked, the drug reaches the brain in eight seconds.