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When everyone thought Adriano had definitively left his off-field problems behind and was on the way to becoming once again one of the most feared strikers in the world, writes Pedro Fonseca, the Brazil international is showing that his personal fragility still haunts him.
The 28-year-old striker, who at the height of his powers helped Brazil win the 2004 Copa America and 2005 Confederations Cup as best player and top scorer of both competitions, returned to training with Flamengo on Monday for the first time since playing for Brazil in a World Cup warm-up against Ireland in London a week ago.
Last Friday, when Adriano was expected at Flamengo, he didn’t turn up. The justification given by the Rio club’s vice-president raised fears Adriano again faced problems with drink, one of the reasons for his loss of form and disenchantment with his football career in the past.
“Adriano’s problems are notorious and well known,” said Marcos Braz.
For the last year, Brazilian club Flamengo have led an almost obsessive campaign for a ban on matches at high altitude. Following a match away to Bolivian side Real Potosi at 4,000 metres above sea level in the Libertadores Cup, club president Marcio Braga has gone on the warpath describing high altitude games as “inhumane” and comparing them to a form of doping for the home team.
Braga has taken his case to FIFA, the Court of Arbitration for Sport and even the United Nations human rights commission — all without success. Although FIFA has effectively banned World Cup qualifiers above 2,750 metres, the South American Football Confederation has refused to follow suit for the Libertadores.