Monday, September 8, 2008

Head of Sumo Resigns After Wrestlers Test Positive...for a little weed?

Kitanoumi, the head of Japan's embattled sumo association, resigned on Monday after two pro sumo wrestlers tested positive for smoking pot, Reuters reports.

I caused trouble to the sumo association and to fans, so I have resigned," Kitanoumi, chairman of the Japan Sumo Association (JSA), told a news conference after a meeting of the sport's top officials.

Two Russian wrestlers tested positive for marijuana last week, setting off a media frenzy about abuses in the sport, which historians say dates back 2,000 years and which makes much of its respect for tradition. Hakurozan, who trains at Kitanoumi's gym or "stable", and his brother Roho, both denied smoking the drug.

The positive test results came shortly after another Russian wrestler was arrested and fired for suspected marijuana possession.
I could see if one of these behemoths unleashes the banzai drop on someone in a Tokyo karaoke bar on his watch, but over a marijuana charge?

It seems a little harsh, but then we learned...
Junichi Yamamoto, a master of a stable that trains [sumo] wrestlers, was arrested in April 2008 on assault charges for reputedly beating a 17-year-old trainee. There have also been accusations that sumo matches have been fixed, and the rise of foreign athletes has rankled many fans.
and then we learned...
According to The Washington Post, After the beating became public, the JSA sent a survey to the 53 stables in Japan, asking about their training practices. More than 90 percent have used baseball bats or similar implements in training, the survey found. About a third of the stables said bullying and other forms of abuse occurred during training.
Fact is, nobody thought Kitanoumi's house was in order.

The two wrestlers who tested positive for marijuana have been expelled from the sport for life. They are the first wrestlers ever kicked out for drug use in Sumo's 2000 year history.

Kitanoumi, 55, was a grand champion yokozuna and the youngest ever in the history of sumo.

Additional Links:

Japan: Sumo chief resigns over drugs scandal (The Guardian)
Kitanoumi finally forced out / Gives up efforts to protect Russian pair embroiled in marijuana scandal (The Yomiuri Shimbun)
Sumo Wrestling Struggling Under Weight of Recent Scandals (Finding Dulcinea)

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