Sumo chairman resigns, Roho & Hakurozan banned for life
The scandal over the alleged use of marijuana by Russian sumo wrestlers seems to have come to an end. Both wrestlers have been banned, and the chairman of the JSA has stepped down in shame:
Kitanoumi resigned as head of the Japan Sumo Association after the scandal reached his stable, where one of the Russian wrestlers trained.
“I bear the responsibility,” Kitanoumi, one of the greatest sumo wrestlers of the 1970s, told a nationally televised news conference.
“I am offering my resignation out of my own volition because I have troubled the Sumo Association and its fans. I must reflect deeply by myself,” he said.
Past posts about this story may have been vague, but I just want to make two facts clear:
- All 69 wrestlers in the top two divisions took drug tests. Roho and Hakurozan were the only two who tested positive.
- The second test found that the two wrestlers had “consumed the drug in amounts far beyond what could be inhaled from second-hand smoke.”
Some might argue that laws against marijuana shouldn’t even exist, and I’d agree with them. However, most people in Japan do not question existing drug laws, and there is a public perception that marijuana use is a very serious offense. If Wakanoho, Roho, and Hakurozan had desired to stay in Japan and make money as professional athletes, they should have been careful not to violate Japan’s drug laws.
Some have claimed that the media has given too much attention to this story, claiming that there is some kind of anti-foreign bias. I don’t feel that this is the case. Even if this case involved Japanese wrestlers, it would be big news because this is an unprecedented drug scandal involving wrestlers in the top division of the sport. The current level of coverage given to this story has yet to come close to the attention given to hazing death scandal, nor can it be said to exceed the attention the media is currently giving to the LDP leadership race.