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The Japan Sumo Association’s special investigative panel questioned elder Sanoyama, formerly the ozeki Chiyotaikai, on Tuesday after it learned that a weekly magazine would publish an article on his involvement in illegal gambling.

Attorney Yasushi Murakami, a member of the panel, spoke to Sanoyama on the phone, and the 34-year-old Oita native denied his involvement.

The weekly Shukan Shincho has reported that Sanoyama was spotted at an online casino shop four years ago and was gambling last summer on baseball, which is suspected to be a source of income for mobsters.

“All of what has been written is fabricated. I have no involvement at all,” Sanoyama told reporters.

Chiyotaikai retired from sumo earlier this year and has since served as a sumo elder of the Kokonoe stable.

Shukan Shincho earlier published exclusive reports on former yokozuna Asashoryu’s alleged drunken rampage and expelled ozeki Kotomitsuki’s gambling on baseball. Asashoryu retired in February and Kotomitsuki was fired by the association earlier this month.

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