Sumo wrestlers test positive
Russian wrestlers test positive for marijuana only two weeks after fellow wrestler banned.
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2008 15:47 GMT

Japanese Sumo Association carried out surprise tests on the urine of Hakurozan, above [AFP]
Two Russian sumo wrestlers have tested positive for marijuana use, two weeks after another Russian wrestler was banned for life after being arrested on suspicion of possessing the drug.

Roho and Hakurozan, who are brothers, tested positive after urine tests were carried out on a total of 69 wrestlers.

Shohei Onishi, an official on the Japan Sumo Association's anti-doping panel, announced the results.

The tests were carried out after Russian wrestler Wakanoho was banned for life by the association and arrested by police for marijuana possession.

Emergency meeting

Wakanoho's dismissal, the first expulsion of an active wrestler, was quickly announced after an emergency meeting of the JSA executive board.

The association did not immediately announce whether Roho and Hakurozan
would be punished.

The two were also being questioned by Tokyo police, according to a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case was under investigation.

Japanese broadcaster NHK said Hakurozan had denied using marijuana.

Kitanoumi, Hakurozan's coach and head of the sumo association, said that he could not comment.

Roho and his training team were not immediately available.

Moral standard

Sumo culture is conservative and its wrestlers are generally held to a high moral standard.

Last year, grand champion Asashoryu was given a two-tournament suspension
after claiming an injury and missing summer tour events, only to be shown later on television playing football in his native Mongolia.

In 2000, Japanese wrestler Toki hit and killed a pedestrian while driving in Osaka.

He was suspended for only one tournament.

Facing prison

Under Japan's Cannabis Control Law, possession of marijuana is punishable
by up to five years in prison.

Foreigners convicted of drug crimes can also be deported and given a lifetime re-entry ban.

Roho, whose real name was listed by the association as Boradzov Soslan
Feliksovich, is in sumo's top division, while Hakurozan, who was listed as Baradzov Batraz Feliksovich, is in a lower division.

Foreign wrestlers assume Japanese fighting names when they enter the sport.

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