Random sumo drug tests held

JSA seeks to improve sport's tarnished image

Kyodo News

The Japan Sumo Association carried out its first random drug tests on wrestlers Wednesday, following a series of marijuana busts that have tarnished the ancient national sport’s image.

Urine tests were conducted on wrestlers belonging to several stables, including the Musashigawa stable. Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu of the Takasago stable was also tested.

The tests were undertaken by Mitsubishi Chemical Medience Corp., Japan’s only institution certified by world antidoping agency WADA. The results will be disclosed at a later date.

JSA chief Musashigawa recently visited education minister Ryu Shionoya to apologize for the recent spate of drug scandals and promised to aggressively implement random urine tests to curb drug use.

New antidoping rules were set by the JSA in late February so that all of the association’s members could be tested without warning.

At the end of January, second-division wrestler Wakakirin, 25, was arrested on suspicion of possessing marijuana, becoming the first Japanese wrestler to be arrested in a pot case and the latest grappler to be thrown out of the sumo world. His arrest came after three Russians were dismissed over cannabis charges.

Separately on Wednesday, the Kawasaki branch of the Yokohama District Court sentenced Wakakirin, whose real name is Shinichi Suzuki, to 10 months in prison, suspended for three years.

Suzuki was found in possession of marijuana on Jan. 30 at an office of a CD sales company in the Roppongi district of Minato Ward, Tokyo.

When his trial opened, Suzuki pleaded guilty, saying he obtained the marijuana while relaxing after the year’s first tournament in January.