Asashoryu slips out of leading pack in Nagoya


Asashoryu suffered a first defeat at the hands of Kisenosato on Sunday, leaving rival Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho and ozeki Kotooshu in a two-way tie for the lead to wrap up the first week of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

Hakuho and Kotooshu improved to 8-0 records as the competition heats up at the 15-day meet.

In the day’s final bout, Asashoryu appeared to get the jump on Kisenosato as he pushed his opponent backward at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, but the sekiwake turned the tables at the last second with a thrusting technique to drag Asashoryu to the dirt.

Kisenosato improved to 6-2. Asashoryu, who is seeking his 24th career Emperor’s Cup, sits one off the pace at 7-1 with ozeki Kotomitsuki.

In the day’s penultimate bout, Hakuho got a right-handed grip on Iwakiyama’s (2-6) mawashi before tossing the No. 3 maegashira to the dohyo surface to move a step closer to capturing his 11th career title and first in two meets.

Bulgarian Kotooshu, who is making his best run since winning his first career title at the summer meet last year, controlled his bout from start to finish, never allowing Baruto a belt grip before toppling the Estonian No. 3 maegashira over the edge with a crush-down technique.

Harumafuji, meanwhile, stayed two off the pace with a well-timed overarm throw of winless Tochiozan.

The Mongolian ozeki formerly known as Ama came into the Nagoya meet bidding for promotion to yokozuna but damaged his chances badly after suffering two defeats in the early going.

Only winning all of his remaining bouts and rallying to take the title could possibly turn Harumafuji’s fortunes around this time in consideration for promotion.

In an all-ozeki affair, local boy Kotomitsuki absorbed a fierce onslaught of slaps from Chiyotaikai (4-4) before swatting his opponent to the dirt surface to stay one behind the co-leaders.

Ozeki veteran Kaio (5-3) got inside close to grapple Kyokutenho (2-6) under the komusubi’s armpit and escorted him over the ridge in a textbook frontal force out.

In the lower ranks, Georgian Tochinoshin (5-3) got a solid jump at the face-off in his bout against Kakizoe (2-6), the No. 5 maegashira unleashing a salvo of shoves before knocking the No. 8 maegashira over the edge from the rear.

Drug test negative

Kyodo News

The fourth drug test conducted on sumo wrestlers and other officials last month all returned negative results, the Japan Sumo Association said Sunday.

The fourth test conducted on June 19 examined a total of 110 wrestlers, stablemasters and other sumo officials, including popular maegashira Takamisakari.

The JSA began its tests on April 22, following a spate of drug-related scandals that have tarnished the image of the ancient national sport.

All persons tested in the last four checks have had negative results.

The JSA plans to continue the tests until all members of the association have been examined.