Expelled Russian wrestler retracts claims of sumo bribes, match-fixing

Kyodo News

Former Russian sumo wrestler Wakanoho on Friday publicly retracted his claim in a magazine article that he was forced to accept bribes to lose matches and apologized to the wrestlers he had implicated in match-fixing.

“There is no match-fixing. I still like sumo very much and I would like to apologize to the (Japan Sumo) Association and the four wrestlers (I named as being involved),” the 20-year-old ex-wrestler, whose real name is Gagloev Soslan Aleksandrovich, told a press conference in Tokyo.

Gagloev made the allegation in an issue of the weekly tabloid magazine Shukan Gendai. The interview followed his life ban from professional sumo after his arrest in August on suspicion of possessing marijuana.

He has already submitted a document to the Tokyo District Court, where he is fighting the JSA on grounds of unfair dismissal, stating the claim he made in the article “was a lie.”

Dressed in “haori” and “hakama” formal kimono attire, Gagloev said he received a phone call from a man after he was expelled from sumo and “believed the man’s story that I could return to the association in one week.”

“The man made up the story of match-fixing, citing the names of four wrestlers. After I was interviewed by Shukan Gendai, I got ¥2.5 million in cash from the man,” he said.

But he refrained from revealing the man’s name, saying, “I cannot say because I or my family may be harmed.”

The weekly magazine’s editorial department said Gagloev’s statements in the press conference “do not make any sense and cannot be thought of as true,” noting he had told one of the magazine’s reporters just Thursday that match-fixing was practiced.

The wrestler told the reporters he “has no idea (what the court statement is about) and has not made any such statement whatsoever.”

Gagloev is seeking to be reinstated as a wrestler.

His lawyer, Makoto Miyata, said the document “was produced for the former Wakanoho, who strongly wishes to return to the sumo association” and added a DVD that shows the wrestler signing the document.

Tokyo prosecutors do not plan to charge Gagloev over the marijuana case, apparently because he was 19 and therefore a minor when he was caught in possession of the illegal drug, and because the amount of the drug in his possession was very small.