Toronto mayor Rob Ford told a Canadian newspaper yesterday that "rehab is amazing," adding that it's a lot like the football summer camp he attended as a child.
The reported comments came as speculation swirled over the whereabouts of the crack-smoking official after it was reported that US border agents thwarted his efforts to enter a rehab programme in Chicago.
Ford had flown out of Toronto on a chartered private jet on May 1, destined for a US treatment facility, his lawyer, Dennis Morris, said.
But on Tuesday it emerged that after landing at a Chicago airport he had a brief discussion with officials and decided not to try to officially enter the US. The Globe and Mail newspaper reported that instead, he flew back to Canada.
Ford, 44, took a leave of absence from city hall in the middle of his re-election campaign last week to enter rehab for drug and alcohol abuse after another video surfaced showing him allegedly smoking crack recently.
"I feel great," he told the Toronto Sun. "Rehab is amazing. It reminds me of football camp. Kind of like the Washington Redskins camp I went to as a kid."
The mayor described daily meetings with four to eight people, including "two doctors, a captain of industry and a professional athlete," and "then there is a meal before we have some one-on-one sessions".
"There are terrific people in my group. We are all supporting each other. We are connecting in a weird way," he said, while refusing to reveal the location.
"I am working out every day and I am learning about myself, my past and things like that."
He described learning to deal with the anger he has often directed at political opponents. "It's not an excuse to play the victim and it's not an excuse to drink," he said.
The last time Ford visited the United States was in early March, when he appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel Live television show in Los Angeles.
This time, however, Roy Norton, the Canadian consul general in Chicago, told The Globe and Mail that Ford voluntarily withdrew his application to enter the US when he landed and was "not denied entry, per se".
Kris Grogan, a spokesman for US Customs and Border Protection, noted that anyone hoping to enter the US must "overcome all grounds of inadmissibility". He said there were more than 60 grounds for inadmissibility, including criminality, security reasons and documentation requirements.
Once a foreign visitor is formally denied entry, they have to receive special permission from the government to try to come back. If Ford decided on his own not to ask immigration authorities to let him in, future visits could be as simple as presenting his passport at the border.
Morris and Doug Ford, Rob's brother, declined to disclose the mayor's location.
"The most important thing, everyone who is concerned if he's in rehab, the answer is yes," Doug Ford said. "As for his whereabouts, that's personal and that should stay with Rob."
The scandal over Ford's crack use broke last May when news reports emerged of the first video. After police said they had obtained that video, Ford admitted that he smoked crack while in a "drunken stupor".
Agence France-Presse, Associated Press