Sumo conducts more drug tests

Kyodo News

The Japan Sumo Association on Monday carried out its second round of tests on sumo wrestlers, including grand champion Hakuho, stable masters and officials, to check for illegal drugs such as marijuana and methamphetamines.

The first urine tests were conducted by the association on April 22 in response to a spate of drug-related scandals that tarnished the image of the ancient national sport. All 103 people tested in the first round returned negative results.

On Monday, ozeki Chiyotaikai was among the 103 people tested from five stables. The association plans to continue the random tests until all members of the association have been examined.

As was the case in the first round, each stable was warned of the procedure two days in advance, throwing into question the stringency of the so-called random tests.

All of the urine samples were shipped to Mitsubishi Chemical Medicine Corp., Japan’s only institution certified by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The results are due in about two weeks.

” ‘Rikishi’ (wrestlers) can wrestle giving everything of themselves once we know that they are clean,” Chiyotaikai said.

Former wrestler Wakakirin was arrested at the end of January on suspicion of possessing marijuana, becoming the first Japanese wrestler to be arrested in a marijuana case and the latest grappler to be thrown out of the sumo world.

Wakakirin, whose real name is Shinichi Suzukawa, was later sentenced to 10 months in prison, suspended for three years.

His arrest came after three Russian wrestlers were dismissed over drug charges.