Sun, Sep 07, 2008 - Page 18 News List

Sumo drug scandal deepens as test results are positive

AFP , TOKYO

Russian sumo wrestler Hakurozan, whose real name is Baradzov Batraz Feliksovich, walks out after taking a test for marijuana use at the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena in Tokyo on Tuesday. Hakurozan and his brother Roho, whose real name is Boradzov Soslan Feliksovich, tested positive after urine tests carried out by the Japan Sumo Association’s anti-doping panel.

Photo: AP

A drug scandal involving Japan’s national sport of sumo deepened yesterday after a detailed review of urine samples from two Russian wrestlers showed they tested positive for marijuana, media reported.

The samples from Russian brothers Roho and Hakurozan showed they tested positive for the drug, Jiji Press and Kyodo News reported, quoting Japan Sumo Association sources.

The results came after the pair tested positive for marijuana in simple examinations on Tuesday, rocking the centuries-old sport now embroiled in a series of scandals.

DENIAL

Roho, 28, whose real name is Soslan Boradzov, and Hakurozan, 26, whose name is Batraz Boradzov, deny taking the drug.

“I have never smoked marijuana. I don’t trust the test,” Roho told reporters yesterday following the reported results from the second exam.

The test was conducted by Japan’s only institution certified by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The association, which had carried out surprise tests on the urine of 69 wrestlers, was expected to officially announce the results early next week.

PRESSURE

Kitanoumi, association chief and one of the modern era’s greatest sumo champions, came under intense pressure to resign after another Russian wrestler was arrested for possessing marijuana last month.

Marijuana is taboo in Japan, which strictly forbids both hard and soft drugs. Russia is among a growing number of countries that have virtually decriminalized cannabis.

Japanese fans expect sumo wrestlers to be role models and to lead nearly ascetic lives that involve early-morning training and participation in ritual ceremonies.

But the sport’s image was seriously tainted last year when a teenage apprentice died after a violent hazing by his stable.

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