Italian tax police take Maradona's earrings

The command office of the Bolzano Provincial Tax Police said Maradona himself handed over the pair of earrings, worth USD 5,900.

The tax police in the capital of the South Tyrol, or Alto Adige region, declined to describe the earrings they took away from the Grand Hotel Palace in Merano, which boasts an exclusive beauty farm in its grounds. Italian television network Sky TG24 reported that they contained diamonds.

Police did not say if Maradona was wearing them when it was time to pay up.
It's not the first time the football great has surrendered some of his jewelry when visiting in Italy.

Three years ago, tax police took two Rolex watches from him when he went to a Naples suburb for a news conference and benefit appearance.

The Italian news agency ANSA said the tax bill now stands at some more than USD 54 million. Bolzano police described Maradona as a regular visitor of the Italian Alpine region's resorts.

Maradona, 48, and overweight, came to the hotel beauty farm to be treated for weight gain and stress, according to his doctor.

Maradona captained Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title, and had some stellar seasons for Italian club Napoli. He was kicked out of the 1994 World Cup and banned for 15 months for failing a doping test for stimulants. He was near death on a respirator five years ago after a heart attack attributed to a cocaine overdose.

Earlier this week, Maradona's personal physician dismissed speculation that his client is being treated for drug use.

His departure from Argentina, after damaging losses to Brazil and Paraguay in World Cup qualifying games, had prompted immediate speculation about his widely reported battle with drugs.

With two qualifying games remaining next month, Argentina is in danger of missing its first World Cup since 1970, and Maradona is taking much of the blame.

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