Sumo wrestlers accused of marijuana abuse in Japan

September 3rd, 2008 - 4:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, Sep 3 (DPA) Japan’s sumo wrestlers are waiting for the smoke to clear after police Wednesday searched the quarters of two Russian-born wrestlers suspected of illegal cannabis consumption.The brothers tested positive for cannabis, media reports said, but the wrestlers denied having ever been in contact with the drug and demanded additional testing of the urine samples.

Another Russian sumo wrestler was arrested earlier on similar charges.

The latest incident was another hit for Japan’s much-revered, yet scandal-ridden national sport, which made a number of negative headlines in the recent past, tarnishing the image of the weighty national idols.

The death of a young wrestler last year after severe abuse during training shocked the country, forcing the ultra-conservative sumo association to hand down a life ban, its most severe punishment.

The coach of the 17-year-old victim was banned for life after he hit his charge over the head several times with a bottle. The junior wrestler died one day later.

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